For Christmas I built my son (and my wife and myself!) an Exploratorium Wind Tube. My friend Joseph helped me build the Exploratorium's Marble Machine, one of my favorite low floor/high ceiling learning adventure tools for young and adults alike. Jay Silver and I played with his Wind Tube and it was instantly engaging. He told me the hardest part to track down was the acetate and shared his source.
My son, wife and I found it instantly engaging and fun to play with. I included a pack of feathers, some chenille pipe cleaners, and a piece of lightweight felt to get us started. There was also an empty tomato container and an empty Cool Whip container as well.
The chenille pipe cleaners, when chained together, could potentially spend minutes in the vortex inside the tube.
They would ball up and as they slowed down extend only to speed back up and ball up again!
The Wind Tube encourages you to quickly iterate on a design and to try new things. Unlike the Marble Machine, which takes some time to set up, the Wind Tube is pretty instantaneous in its feedback of whether the object drops, floats, or shoots out of the top of the tube. We ended up with many feathers stuck on the wide blades of the ceiling fan and were treated to a fantastic shower of feathers when we turned on the fan to retrieve them!
I also enjoy how the Wind Tube encourages you to experiment with different materials and configurations. I created a bird from a piece of soda rings, feathers, pipe cleaners, and a short section of 22 gauge wire.
After a couple of tries I added a little weight in the head by using two layers of cardboard from the pipe cleaner packaging. That was too heavy so I used one layer.
The bird was pretty buoyant but needs more work. So fun!
The Wind Tube is well worth constructing and will provide you or a workshop with hours of hard fun! The challenges one can construct around the Wind Tube are endless, while it is fun to aimless noodle with as well.