It has been an incredibly windy day in Fargo! Wind may be annoying, but can also cause major issues! For example, wind can cause erosion of natural formations like mountains and hills as well as manmade structures such as buildings and walls. Erosion often occurs in flat areas where there are few natural wind blocks. Fargo is the perfect example of this type of landscape, as it has little trees and very few hills.
What exactly is erosion? Basically, erosion is a slow, steady destruction of something, often due to wind or water. Here’s a few examples:
Erosion from water:
Here’s an example of a fence with a wind screen. Although wind can still pass through the screen, it drastically reduces the wind’s power.
Think about different walls that you’ve seen. What makes them strong?
What can you do to design a wall that will withstand the wind?
YOU WILL NEED:
* An electric fan
* Foam board (1/2 inch, 1 inch, and 1 1/2 inch thicknesses)
* Mesh screen
* Utility knife (be careful!)
* Hot glue gun (optional)
Here’s what to do!
1. Set up a fan on a flat surface.
2. Mark a spot about 3 feet away from the fan with a piece of masking tape. This is your wall testing spot. You will test each wall you design on this same spot.
3. Test your control (the original wall with which you will compare your own design). The control is a plain piece of 1/2 inch foam board with no alterations. Set the control wall on the testing spot. Turn the fan on. Start at low, then turn it to high. What happens? You probably saw that a plain, thin foam wall was not enough to withstand the wind from the fan.
4. Test out the other thicknesses next. Does the thickness of the wall improve the strength?
5. Things to think about: Aside from thickness, what other alterations can you make to create a stronger wall? What if you create slats or cut holes in the wall? Will this make the wall more likely to withstand the wind? How can you create a wall that withstands the wind but also protects the area behind it? How could you use the mesh screen to create wind block?
6. Sketch your idea for your wall.
7. Use your materials to create a wall that you think will best withstand the wind while also protecting the area behind it.
8. Test your wall. What happens? Did it survive the low setting on the fan? Turn it up to high. Is it still standing? If so, great job! If your wall fell down, don’t worry! Just go back to the drawing board and redesign.
9. Continue to test and redesign until your wall survives the wind test.
For other windy day science activities, check out one of our other blog posts to learn about windchill AND make a wind-powered car:
Although wind can be destructive, it can also be a great source of power! Learn more here from these wind energy facts: