The earliest weather vane we know about was in Greece in 48 BC, erected in honour of the Greek god Triton. It became quite popular for the houses of the wealthy Greeks around this time to have weather vanes erected on their roofs, and they were often very ornate.
Compasses are used to determine direction and have been used ever since their invention in China approximately 200 years BC. They were in common use as navigation devices as far away as Western Europe by the 1300s. Compasses work on the principle that the Earth has a magnetic field that the magnetic needle aligns to, enabling the direction to be determined.
In this activity, students will construct a simple weather vane and a simple compass. This activity supports the development of the science capabilities, especially ‘Gather and interpret data’, ‘Use evidence’ and ‘Critique evidence’.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- build a simple weather vane
- build a simple compass
- collect data using their weather vane and compass
- interpret and make meaning of their data
- discuss the reliability of their data.
Download the Word file (see link below) for:
- background information for teachers
- equipment list
- student instructions
- extension ideas/prompting questions for teachers.
Activities are designed to be adaptable to meet students’ requirements, age level and ability.
Nature of science
In this activity, students will build on their understandings about how scientists use tools to measure and collect data about the environment.