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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins | 60 or more mins
  • D & T
  • Science
  • Maths

Make a Robinson Anemometer

Making a device to measure wind speed

In this fun science project for kids, students will construct a Robinson Anemometer using common household materials. Once built, students can use it to measure wind speed either inside with domestic items or outside with the natural environment.

This activity can serve as a stand-alone project or as a component of a broader unit on weather or measurement. It is intended for upper Key Stage 2 learners (years 5 and 6).

Activity: Make a Robinson Anemometer

This resource is part of a collection of free STEM resources created to aid in the teaching of the primary national curriculum, especially in the areas of science and design and technology. The purpose of this activity is to aid in teaching key concepts through the construction of a homemade anemometer.

This anemometer consists of cups attached to a central shaft that rotate in response to wind speed. By measuring the speed of rotation in revolutions per minute (rpm), wind speed can be determined.

This activity could be completed as small groups or as individuals, dependent on the components available.

If available, a commercial anemometer could be demonstrated as part of the introduction to this activity. Low-cost devices designed for use in primary schools are available from several commercial suppliers.

Tools/resources required

Parts and components:

  • Polystyrene balls, 25 - 40 mm diameter, 1 per anemometer
  • Wood/bamboo skewers, 3 per anemometer
  • Putty (such as Blutack or Whitetak) OR modelling clay (such as clay, Plasticine or Playdough).
  • EITHER 6 paper cups OR 4 paper cups and a plastic water bottle with a sports cap
  • Sticky tape

Tools and equipment:

  • Fans, hair-dryers or other sources of moving air
  • Stop watches
  • Commercial anemometer (for extension activity)

The Robinson Anemometer

The Robinson Anemometer is a type of cup anemometer, an instrument used for measuring wind speed. It was invented by John Thomas Romney Robinson in 1846 and is named after him. The Robinson Anemometer consists of four hemispherical cups mounted at the end of horizontal arms, which are attached to a vertical shaft. As the cups rotate due to the force of the wind, the speed of the wind can be calculated based on the rate of rotation. The Robinson Anemometer is still widely used today and is considered one of the most accurate and reliable types of anemometers.

The engineering context

Engineers need to be able to measure the forces that will act on the things they need to design. They need to understand how these measurements are made so that they can be confident that their designs will meet the requirements in practical situations.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will have an understanding of what is meant by wind, they will be able to construct a simple mechanical device and they will be able to understand that the linear movement of air can be measured by the rotation of an anemometer.

Download the free Make a Robinson Anemometer activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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