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Environment        < Previous        Next >

 

Measuring Wind Power

 

Today's Snack: Everybody's favorite springtime vegetable is peas. So when those early March winds howl - or even if they don't - treat yourself with this fun recipe. Be sure to use your own wind power -- blow on them -- before you eat them, if they're too hot:

 

Super Peas

 

2 C. snow peas or sugar snap peas, stems removed, snapped into bite-sized pieces

1 T. ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

1 T. oil

2 C. canned, fresh or frozen peas

3 T. orange juice

Baby carrot

 

Heat oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped ginger. Cook, stirring, for one minute. You should be able to smell the ginger!

Add the pieces of snap peas to the pan. Cook and stir 'til they are crisp-tender, about three minutes.

Now add the 2 C. of peas and orange juice. Cook and stir until hot, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with a crisp carrot curl on top! (To make a carrot curl, peel one baby carrot sideways in a spiral with a vegetable peeler - and after you garnish your peas with the one thin curl, eat the rest of the baby carrot!)

 

--------------------

 

Supplies:

Large wall calendar showing one month

Ruler | Sharpie pen

 

 

Is it windy out today? And HOW windy? You can define just how strong the winds are outside using the Beaufort Scale.

The Beaufort (pronounced "BO-fert") Scale measures the strength of the wind based on the effect of the wind on the environment, as determined by simple observation.

It was invented in 1806 by an Irish admiral and hydrologist (pronounced "hi DRAWL o jist"), or water expert, Francis Beaufort. In those days, it was really important for ship navigation to know what the wind was doing, since ships moved around the seas on wind power. But now it's important to know for everything from power generation for utility companies, to which corner of your backyard is the best place to put your new vegetable garden.

That's because wind is a powerful force of nature, and its power can be helpful or destructive.

The Beaufort scale sets up a scale of 0 to 12 to measure the speed and effect of the wind.

Over the next month, using a page from a wall calendar, record the Beaufort Scale score where you are at the same time of day every day. Don't forget to check the wind's power on weekends, too, so you can get a score for 30 days. Then add up the score for all 30 days and divide by 30. That will give you the average Beaufort Scale wind power for your location!

 

0 Calm Smoke will rise straight up

 

1 Light air Smoke drifts

 

2 Light breeze You can feel the wind on your face

 

3 Gentle breeze Leaves and twigs move

 

4 Moderate wind Flags flap

 

5 Fresh wind Small trees sway

 

6 Strong wind Large branches move

 

7 Near gale Whole trees sway

 

8 Fresh gale Twigs break off trees

 

9 Strong gale Branches break off trees

 

10 Storm Trees uprooted

 

11 Violent storm Widespread damage

 

12 Hurricane Disaster

 

 

ACTIVITY: WIND EROSION EXPERIMENT

 

Now let's examine another feature in wind power: "erosion," or how the wind's power affects rocks and soil. This is a very important concept for farmers, landscape designers and anybody else who wants dirt to stay put!

 

Supplies:

 

1 C. potting soil

1 C. fine gravel

1 C. sand

Large balloon

Ruler

 

Mix the soil, gravel and sand. Pile it outside on a paved driveway or section of sidewalk.

 

Inflate the balloon and hold the neck so that the air does not escape. Now point the neck of the balloon about six inches from the soil mixture, down on the ground or a little above it, pointing straight at it.

 

Let the air out of the balloon. What happens?

 

The balloon air was like a strong gust of wind. Wind can move large quantities of soil from one place to another.

 

The smaller and lighter-weight soil particles blow away, and the gravel pretty much stays put.

 

The problem is, the topsoil - the lighter soil - is what is fertile and important for growing crops.

 

Wind erosion caused the Dust Bowl - the inability to grow good farm crops during the 1930s in the United States, a key cause for the widespread poverty that occurred in that decade.

 

Because farmers didn't know enough about preventing wind erosion, the good, lightweight, crumbly topsoil blew away, and people couldn't grow food crops in the heavier, gravelly soils that remained.

 

Now we know better, and farmers use methods such as no-till farming, in which they don't fluff up the soil very much from planting year to planting year in order to keep it in place.

 

They also use "terracing" (TERR ah sing) in which they create flat planting terraces on hillsides, to prevent a lot of the topsoil from blowing away.

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Environment 10 2010

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