As part of a study unit on weather, Mary Stewart introduced her third-grade students at Bellew to the uses of different weather instruments. She then tasked them with designing and building working anemometers, devices used to measure wind speed for a project combining earth and space science with engineering design.
Students brought in various novel items from home to use for the anemometer project, in addition to materials provided by Stewart. At the end of the lesson, Stewart asked the students to examine their own designs and decide where they went wrong, and then look at the other designs in the room to help them overcome the obstacles that they had identified in their own design. In subsequent lessons, the third-graders were able to construct working anemometers and measure wind speed using the Buford scale.
“At the beginning, I was skeptical that third-graders had the capacity to design and build an anemometer,” said Brian Taylor, West Islip’s director of science and engineering technology. “I could not have been more wrong. I have never been more impressed by the work of a group of students as I was watching these kids implement the designs that they had created. This lesson is an example of the wonderful science and engineering experiences that students are exposed to in our elementary schools, and the great things that they are able to do when we open up student-centered learning opportunities to them.”