Wind Energy 12-14 yrs

Updated Apr 13, 2023

Goal:  To learn to how wind works in nature and how it offers potential as a clean source of energy.

Materials Required:

Wind Sock

  • Scissors
  • Sturdy string (144 inches/ 360cm per youth)
  • Empty 2 Litre pop bottle (1 per youth)
  • Colourful plastic bags (if you want it to be water proof) OR Paper streamers, crepe or tissue paper cut into strips

Wind Maker

  • Scissors
  • 9 inch/ 23cm aluminum pie plate (1 per pair)
  • Fine point permanent marker
  • Ruler
  • Small Philips head screwdriver (star shaped head)
  • Small canning jar or drinking glass with an opening of about 2 inches/ 5cm wide
  • Optional: Pair of cutting pliers or box cutter
  • Pen cap that is pointed at the end (1 per pair)
  • Scotch tape
  • Modelling clay or sticky tack
  • Clean, dry, short glass bottle with a narrow neck, 8 -16oz / 250ml – 500ml size (1 per pair)
    • For example, glass pop bottles, San Pellegrino, Acqua Panna or Perrier water bottles
  • 3 inch / 7.5cm sewing needle (1 per pair)
  • Tea light candles (4 per pair)
  • Matches or a lighter

Flying Disc

  • A few frisbees or aerobies (flying ring discs)



Enjoy your unit’s usual Opening and explain some basic facts about wind and how it can be used by humans to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

Answers: Simply put, wind is moving air. As we have all experienced, wind can be felt but it cannot be seen. People have been putting wind to work for thousands of years. Sailboats are the original example of vehicles powered by wind, as used by the Egyptians 5,000 years ago to travel the Nile River. Windmills are the oldest machinery to harness the wind’s energy. They were first invented in the Middle East in ancient Persia, were also used in China as early as 2000 years ago. Windmills spread to Europe in the 12th century following the Crusades, and were made most famous by the Dutch who had 10,000 windmills operating until the 1900’s. All of these older examples of windmills were used to do hard jobs such as pump water, grind grain and sugar cane, press oil, saw wood, and run fabric looms until they were replaced by steam power. Most recently, wind turbines (modern windmills) have been invented to use wind to create electricity. Wind turbines are most effective when grouped together. Groups of them are called wind farms and they do the same job as power plants.


Make a Wind Sock

Wind socks are used at airports and helicopter landing pads to show the direction and strength of the wind.

  1. Using scissors, carefully cut around the pop bottle to remove the top, cone shaped part.  Continue to cut off the bottom of the bottle as well. You should be left with a cylindrical ring from the mid-section of the bottle. The outside edges may be slightly sharp, so be cautious.
  2. Cut 1 inch wide strips out of the plastic bags (waterproof) or paper.
  3. One at a time, fold each strip in half and hold it on the inside of the pop bottle ring. There should be a loop on one side of the ring, and tails on the other. String the tails of the plastic strip through the loop, and pull gently to fasten. Continue this process, working your way around the ring until it is covered with strips.
  4. Cut three 48 inch (120cm) pieces of string. Take one piece of string and tie the two ends together in a knot. Place the circle of string on the inside of the pop bottle ring and loop one end through the other and pull until it tightens around the ring. Repeat with a second string on the other side of the bottle. Thread the third piece of string through the two loops and tie it to them tightly, leaving one very short end and one long end of string. You should end up with two loops of string connected by a long single string.
  5. Take the wind sock outside and tie the end of the string onto a branch, pole or other spot where it can fly freely. Observe. The way the tail of the wind sock is pointing is the opposite of the direction the wind is blowing. For example, a wind sock pointing north signals a southerly wind. Wind speed is indicated by the wind sock's angle relative to its post.  In low winds, the wind sock sags and its tail points down, whereas in high winds it flies horizontally.

For a picture of the finished product see:


How is wind created?

During daylight hours the Sun heats the air above the land faster than it heats the air above the water. The warm air over the land rises, and the cool air from above the water moves in to take its place. This movement of air is called wind.

In short, wind occurs because the air above water and the air above land absorb warmth from the Sun at different speeds. Hot air always rises and cold air takes it place lower down.


Construct a Wind Maker

  1. Divide the group into partners for this activity.
  2. Carefully remove the outer rim of the aluminum pie plate with scissors, leaving the flat centre disk. The edges may be a little sharp.
  3. Set the aluminum circle down on a flat surface and use the permanent marker and ruler to draw a line dividing the circle perfectly in half, running directly through the centre. Draw another line dividing the circle perfectly in half in the other direction, crossing the first line in the centre. The disc should look like a pie divided into 4 even quadrants. Continue to draw two more lines from one side of the circle to the other, so that you have 8 equal sized sections.
  4. The spot where all of the lines cross is the centre of the aluminum plate. Use a Philips- head screwdriver to poke a small hole into the exact centre. Poke from the side with no lines to the side with lines so the aluminum pushes outwards.
  5. Place a canning jar or drinking glass directly over top of the centre hole and trace a circle of about 2 inches/ 5 cm wide around it.
  6. Using scissors, slice through each of the lines from the edge of the disc to the outer edge of the circle just drawn in the middle. Leave the 2 inch circle uncut.
  7. Fold up each of the eight aluminum plate flaps by about 30 degrees, so they are all angled in the same direction, like the blades of a propeller.
  8. With the cutting pliers, scissors or a box cutter cut the tail off the plastic pen lid. Alternatively, you can just snap off the tail by hand. Push the tip of the pen cap through the centre hole of the pie plate the same way you pushed the screwdriver, from the side with no lines to the side with lines. If the pen lid has a hole in the top, seal off the end with a piece of tape.
  9. Roll the modelling clay into a small ball, approximately the size of a golf ball. Push the ball halfway through the top opening of the glass bottle so that the clay mushrooms out.
  10. Carefully push the eye of the sewing needle about an inch/ 2.5cm into the modelling clay. The sharp point will be sticking up, and must be long enough that the pen cap can spin freely on the needle without touching the clay at all.
  11. Place the open end of the pen cap over the sewing needle. If the cap makes contact with the clay raise the needle up a bit higher. 
  12. Make sure that the pie plate is well balanced, not tilting. Make adjustments, if necessary.
  13. Place the four candles evenly around the base of the bottle and light them.
  14. The rising warm air from the candles will cause the windmill to spin!


For the most part, the production of electricity involves burning coal, oil or natural gas, which is hard on the environment. Wind turbines are now helping to create electricity in a cleaner way. Ask the group to think about everything they use in a day that runs on electricity. (The easiest way might be to imagine one room of a house at a time.) Can any of the children remember a time that the power went out in a storm? What changed?

Answers: Light bulbs, clock radios, electric heat, air conditioning, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, microwaves, toasters, blenders, televisions, computers, hair dryers, etc. all rely on electricity.
The first thing you immediately notice when the power goes out is that all the lights turn off. Your family may have to use flashlights or candles to see. It is also harder to cook food and to keep it properly chilled; don’t open the fridge for long! Without TV, movies, video games or computers you may have to play a board game or read a book for fun instead.


Flying Disc

There are many fun recreational activities such as kite flying, kite boarding, wind surfing, parasailing, paragliding, hot air ballooning, and parachuting that make use of the wind.  On the other hand, paper airplanes and frisbees are playthings that create the movement of air on a calm day. 
Have the group split into partners or trios. In an open space such as a gymnasium or field let the groups play pass or ‘keep away’ with their flying discs. Alternatively, if your group is more interested in a competitive sport, divide them into two teams for Ultimate frisbee.

The basic rules of Ultimate:
Just like in football, the two teams begin at opposite “end zones” and try to advance the disc to the other end zone. However, unlike how a receiver can run with the football, the disc may be advanced only by passing it to a teammate. The player holding the disc has up to 10 seconds to pass the disc and cannot move (except for pivoting on one foot, like in basketball). Defensive players on the other team must stay a minimum of 10 feet/ 3 meters back from the thrower. If a pass is incomplete, intercepted, or caught out of bounds, the opposing team immediately gains possession and tries to move the disc in the other direction. If a team successfully advances the disc into the end zone, that team scores a point. The teams then switch directions and the team that did not just score starts again. No physical contact is allowed between players, nor are picks and screens.


Enjoy your regular Closing and commend the group for learning about how wind is created and how it can be used by humans.

Works Cited

Caduto, Michael J. Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 

Fitzgerald, Stephanie. Wind Power. New York, NY: Chelsea Clubhouse, 2010.

Woelfle, Gretchen. The Wind At Work: An Activity guide to Windmills. Chicago, IL: Chicago
            Review Press, 1997.


Photography Credit: Pauline Woodhouse

Vanessa Day

This Meeting Plan was researched and written by our intern Vanessa Day.

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