Download and Use the Beaufort Scale Chart
Click image to go to download.
This is MatchCard #4 of the Weather Unit Study. Find more information on MatchCard Science below.
Start outside. Have students close their eyes, and detect any movement of the air. Do they feel it? Hear it? Any change in smells?
Then have them open their eyes. What do they see that indicates the wind is blowing. Describe as many details as possible.
Ask: On a scale of 0 to 12, with "0" no wind; and "12" a severe hurricane, what number would you give today's wind?
- Miles Per Hour
Ask: How many miles per hour do you think the wind is blowing?
The first day, this will be a guess in the dark. Each day the students do this, they will become more proficient in their estimations.
Look At the Beaufort Scale
Now students will go inside (or stay outside), read the description on the MatchCard, and place a token on the box that best describes the effect of today's wind.
How close were their guesses?
Here is the scale:
Smoke rises straight up.
Wind is felt gently.
Leaves and twigs move.
Small branches move.
Paper blows on the street.
Small trees sway.
Large branches move.
Large trees sway
Difficult to walk
Small branches break
Trees blown down
Serious damage is done
Check the Weather Report
Now check your local weather report.
Do they agree with your findings? Remember, that the weather report may be at a different time of the day (and wind speeds can change dramatically very quickly.)
What else could cause differences in the weather report?
- How close the weather station is to your area
- Hills, trees, valleys
- Distance from the ground to where it is measured
Identify factors in your immediate area that influence wind speed.
Make A Chart of Your Wind Estimate
Develop a ten day chart to record your guesses regarding wind speed before looking at the MatchCard. After making your estimate, check the MatchCard. Then check the weather report.
Use an Anemometer
Wind speed is estimated with an instrument called an anemometer.
You can make a simple anemometer using five bathroom sized paper cups, two straws, and a pencil. This will not be an acurate indicator of wind speed, but if your lucky, it will spin.
On the other hand, you can buy an actual anemometer and calculate the speed of the wind by counting the revolutions per minute. A commercial anemometer will give you the conversion factor to convert revolutions per minute to miles per hour. These can cost $10 to $25. Of course, in a gale I would not expect you to stand outside and count 500 revolutions per minute.
For more money, you can buy a more accurate wind indicator that COULD be used for high speeds. My recommendation would generally be to take cover and let the weather man do those calucations.
One of the strengths of MatchCard science is the built in repetition. It takes only a few minutes to do this activity. It will not only increase their proficiency with the Beaufort Scale, but will also sharpen their observation skills.
You can have the student do this activity every day for seven days, or for a whole month.
We recommend doing it daily for the first few weeks, then weekly the rest of the year. That will give experience in different weather conditions as the seasons change.