This fun wind tunnel project is so easy to DIY! Inspired by inventor and scientist Mary Jackson, students can discover the power of a wind tunnel and the science behind it. See more amazing projects and ideas from the most influential black men and women here!
WIND TUNNEL PROJECT
WHO IS MARY JACKSON?
Mary Jackson started off at the NASA Langley Research Center with a job title of ‘computer’! Before actual computers, people actually did all the math by head and hand as mathematicians!
Mary later received an offer to work for an engineer in the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel that could blast models with winds close to twice the speed of sound!
Mary was offered a hands-on experience conducting experiments in the facility, and eventually it was suggested that she enter a training program that would allow her to earn a promotion to engineer!
WHAT IS A WIND TUNNEL?
Wind tunnels are large tubes that have air pushed through them by a big fan. Wind tunnels are used to study how air moves around an object in the tube. Engineers may even use smoke or dye to see how the air moves around the object easier!
Wind tunnels can be small, or they can be as big as an entire building!
MAKE A DIY WIND TUNNEL
You probably have most of what you need for this DIY Wind Tunnel sitting around your house or classroom, making this easy to do without a lot of prep work!
- (2) 1 liter bottles
- Box fan
- Pom poms
WIND TUNNEL EXPERIMENT SET UP
STEP 1: Cut the top and bottom off of two 1 liter bottles. Leave as much of the length of the bottle as possible when cutting while still removing the top, curved part of the bottle.
STEP 2: Fit the two tubes together and tape. We used regular scotch tape, but clear packing tape would also work!
STEP 3: Point your fan up and tape the tube on top. Make sure you tape your tube to the fan securely because wind pressure can be strong!
STEP 4: Turn on the fan, drop your pom poms inside and watch the fun!
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What were some observations you made? How did the wind move the pom-poms? Did that change when there were more or fewer pom-poms in the wind tunnel? Try bigger pom-poms and smaller ones to see what changes you notice!
MORE FUN STEM ACTIVITIES
The number of fun STEM activities you can do with materials you likely have on hand is infinite! Try some of these after you’ve made your wind tunnel.
WIND TUNNEL PROJECT FOR KIDS
Click on the image below or on the link for more fun STEM projects for kids.