We love finding sustainable, cheap ways to make teaching tools. This guide will walk you through how to make a wind tunnel, so your students, regardless of grade level, can explore physics in a hands-on way!
The hardest material to source is the plastic sheeting. We used a material called PET-G, a type of plastic with a low melting point that's most commonly used for making hollow shapes like clamshell packaging. We're lucky to have many plastic supply companies located around Norristown, so it didn’t take long to find a local business that could sell us a single 4' by 8' sheet of PET-G. Since PET-G is pretty sturdy and retains its shape well, you need a pretty thin sheet, 0.01-0.05” thick. You could probably follow this guide and use vinyl sheeting instead, but it will probably need to be thicker in order to retain its shape.
Before you begin, decide what size your wind tunnel will be! We used 18” embroidery quilting hoops for our first wind tunnel and 14” hoops for some we made as giveaways. The 14” diameter allowed us to make two wind tunnels from one 4’ by 8’ sheet of plastic, cutting down on cost. Both designs had 4’ tall cylinders, with different cardboard structures for support. You can be creative when it comes to the cardboard structure, as long as there’s a shelf allowing air to pass through the box fan and a space for students to put their parachutes in the base of the tunnel.
Have you made a wind tunnel for your classroom? Send us a photo so we can highlight you and your students!