Let's Make Pinwheels!
Shared by: UT Austin Society of Women Engineers
Recommended Grades: K, 1st, 2nd
- Wooden Pencil with an Eraser
- A square piece of paper - used colored paper or color/decorate the paper for a decorative pinwheel
Find step-by-step instructions and images at Pinwheel Instructions or see the steps copied below from Aunt Annie's Crafts below or visit TeachEngineering for lessons, templates, worksheets, videos and more:
Step 1: Project Preparation
Gather the materials needed for making a pinwheel. If you are doing this project with a group of children, pre-cut the 6" (15 cm) paper squares.
Step 2: Cut Square
Cut a 6" (15 cm) square of paper.
Step 3: Cut
Use the pencil and ruler to draw two diagonal lines, corner-to-corner, that cross at the square's center. Mark the center point and mark a point 2¾" (7 cm) from each corner on the diagonal line.
Cut on the diagonal line from each corner up to the marked point. Erase pencil marks, except for the center point.
Step 4: Assemble
- Using the straight pin, punch a hole in the center and at every other point (about ¼" from the tip.)
- Poke the pin through one of the point holes and curl the point toward the center. Don't fold!
- Curl each pierced point, in turn, toward the center and poke the pin through the holes.
- Push the pin through the center hole of the pinwheel.
- Holding the pencil on a flat surface with one hand, push the pin into the side of the eraser.
Step 5: Finish
You now have a pinwheel! Hold the pinwheel in your hand and swish it around. The pinwheel should rotate on the pin. Take the pinwheel outside on a breezy day and see it whirl like crazy!
Tip: If your pinwheel doesn't rotate freely, it is probably rubbing against the pencil. You can fix this problem by inserting the pin into the eraser at a slight upward angle, or by slipping a small bead onto the pin before inserting it into the eraser.
That's it! Your pinwheel is done! Take a picture or video of your pinwheel and share it on Flipgrid.
Learn more about pinwheels, Wonderful Wind Turbines, and inspiring female engineers below:
Check out this video connecting the pinwheels you have made with wind turbines and wind energy.
Engineers use their understanding of natural forces to obtain energy from renewable resources such as the sun, wind, rivers, and organic matter. For example, regions with forceful and steady wind are suitable for wind farms. Engineers design wind turbines to produce electricity from the force of the wind. Turbines look like pinwheels with angled blades connected to a gearbox, which is connected to a generator. Engineers collect and analyze wind data to continually improve turbine technology and wind farm design.
Explore more about Wind Turbines, find pinwheel worksheets, and more at https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_earth_lesson04_activity2.
At the core of UT SWE is our mission to build a community that empowers women engineering students. With our membership of students spanning all engineering disciplines, we hope that each member can find in SWE a community of friends, a professional network, and a wealth of resources to help them achieve their full potential as engineers and leaders. The university experience should not be confined to the classroom. As our incredibly strong team shows, what makes SWE special is the number of opportunities it provides for students to develop their skills and contribute to the organization, fostering a positive and inclusive environment. SWE provides collegiate members valuable access to a unique set of resources that sets the stage for a successful career and the opportunity to inspire future generations and have fun!