Model Wind Tunnel

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In this activity, learners build a miniature wind tunnel to measure force. Learners construct the model out of Lexan plastic, a fan, and a precise digital scale. When wind pushes against a model car, a beam (hacked out of the digital scale) measures the force, which is very close to the actual drag caused by the car. Learners can use this tool to help prepare for a Pinewood Derby or model car race, or to learn about wind forces and turbulence.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • dremel rotary tool, with cutting disks
  • drill, with drill bits
  • hot glue gun, with glue
  • jigsaw
  • screwdriver
  • soldering materials
  • wire cutters
  • household fan, electric, small, about 8"–12"
  • Lexan panel (acrylic is cheaper, but not as easy to cut)
  • digital pocket scale
  • cabinet handle
  • 2 hinges, brass, ¾", with screws
  • 4 utility hinges, 1½" with screws
  • steel wire, stiff, 15"-long
  • hook-up wire
  • plywood (scrap)
  • 30 wood screws
  • wood glue and plastic epoxy
  • tape, transparent and duct tape
  • cardboard box
  • 10 strand LED (optional)
  • box of drinking straws (optional)
  • car to test
  • Halloween fog generator (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • mini-anemometer (optional)
  • 4 in pieces of plywood


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Desrochers, Douglas


  • All rights reserved, Make Projects, 2011