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Science is a breeze

Pinwheels help Bellview Elementary students harness the wind
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Bellview Elementary School second-grade teacher Alison Blakeslee shows her class the proper way to spin a pinwheel. Mail Tribune / Bob PennellBob Pennell
 Posted: 2:00 AM December 19, 2012

Lesson: Observe the force of air pressure pushing on objects, using FOSS (Full Option Science System) Science kits.

Alison Blakeslee's 26 second-graders at Bellview Elementary School quickly get seated in the science lab.

The class mayor of the week, Connor McLaughlin, who doubles as the meteorologist, steps forward to announce today's temperature: "Thirty degrees." Wow, below freezing, the budding meteorologist realizes. Connor recommends jeans and sweaters for this kind of weather.

About This Series

In the Classroom is a series of photography-driven reports on lessons taught in Ashland's elementary schools. If you have an idea, please send it to Heidi Monjure at

Ginny Sagal, the Science Lady, clicks on a large portable fan. "Watch this," she says. In front of the fan is a homemade anemometer attached to a weather vane.

The anemometer spins and the discussion begins. Wind turbines and weather vanes on barns enter the conversation. Everyone agrees air is quite a force.

Time to construct a device that each young meteorologist can use to feel that force firsthand. Pinwheels are perfect.

Cutting and coloring begins. As Taylor Hamer colors and cuts her pinwheel, she wants to be sure I know that she always wanted to be a scientist.

Now the tricky part: poking holes, threading and taping. But wait. It doesn't spin. Drop the first straw that the pinwheel was attached to into a second, bigger straw and, as one student announces, "Voilą!"

With the help from table partners, all pinwheels are ready for the big test. Out the back door they head.

The sun has come out and there is a gentle breeze. Perfect.

The students run and run, their pinwheels spinning. All of a sudden, a few students stop and with much squealing realize their pinwheels are spinning more than ever. Mission accomplished.

How to make a pinwheel:

— Heidi Monjure

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