To do this project, you need:


  1. First, bare both ends of all wires.
  2. Then, draw a 6 cm x 6 cm square on the block. Mark the corners N, E, S, W like a compass.
  3. Lightly hammer a 9 cm nail to make a hole at each corner. Take the nail back out every time.
  4. Place one end of a long wire into each hole and hole each one by hammering in a 9 cm nail. Leave 5 cm of each nail sticking up.
  5. Nail and glue the end of one small piece of wood (the arm) to the end of the other (the post). Nail and glue the post so that it sticks straight up the back of the block.
  6. Sand all the paint off around the bottom of the can.
  7. Wrap the bare end of a 6 cm wire around the pull tap of the can. Use the wire to hang the can on the arm. Carefully fasten it so that it hangs down right into the middle of the 4 nails. You have finished building the detector's sensor.
  8. Click here to download a picture for the above instruction.

  9. Connect the sensor's wires to the board like this.
  10. Test the switch by touching the nails with the can. One by one, the LEDs should light up. If not, sand the can again and the nails as well in case they have a coating.
  11. Take the wind detective outside and set it up in a clear flat place. When a north wind blows, the can will touch one of the nail. That will complete a circuit and make one LED light up. Use the compass to find north. Now, move the can yourself to touch a nail like the north wind would. Mark the glowing LED N for north. Do this for the other three directions until all four LEDs are marked. Now, the wind detective is ready to use.




  1. How can you use the wind detective inside your house while keeping the sensor outside?
  2. Can you use something besides a tin can in the sensor?


You have built a wind direction indicator that works electronically. It uses the wind to control electrons. Every time the wind blows, the can touches one nail, closes a circuit and lights the LED on that circuit.


It is important that all paint be sanded off the end of the can where it touches the nails.

Some nails have a coating that must be sanded off.

Bending the nails slightly away from the can might improve contact.

The arm and post connection could be strengthened either by binding with string and glue or by using a brace.

Any light metal object could be used instead of a can - a ball of foil.

Devices like this make great projects for science fairs and invention conventions.

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