App Description: Wind Tunnel is an app that simulates air resistance and how air and fluid flow within and around an obstacle. You can draw an obstacle using the ‘Draw Wall’ function and have it interact with fluid, particles and smoke. There are two simulation modes namely Wind Tunnel where you can control the air speed and Free mode where there is no control. This app reinforces concepts about aerodynamics visually to understand the flow of air.
How We Use It: At the Children’s Museum of Houston, we use this app in the Invention Convention gallery to discover how air flow interacts with different materials such as coffee filter parachutes and paper airplanes. Our facilitators use this app in conjunction with the Paper Airplane making apps to discuss aerodynamics concepts such as why the paper airplane would not fly in the wind tunnel versus a paper parachute. In addition, the Lego Car track is another area where we use the app to visually show how air speed functions around a moving car.
The Outreach Program at the Children’s Museum of Houston recently used this app with 5 to 6 groups of about 22 children from grades 5, 6 and 8. Some of these children had no prior knowledge of aerodynamics and how air moves if confined in a tunnel. The exhibit component that related to this app was the Parachute making table and wind tunnel at Invention Convention. The children started off by exploring the app, making different shapes such as a car, an airplane and a balloon using the wall function. They discovered differences in pressure, particles, smoke and how they act when confined in a shape. After interacting with the app, the children were grouped up to create actual parachutes and hot air balloon models at the table using materials like coffee filters, pipes, straws, candy sticks, tape and small paper cups. They tested the parachutes in the wind tunnel to see how they fly and noticed how the flow of air pushes the parachute up and out of the wind tunnel. Then they drew a similar balloon and parachute shapes using the app to see how pressure and speed look visually when confined in one spot. They were able to relate these experiences to real life examples like a car commercial or moving their arms to feel air particles. This workshop was very successful and we hope to be able to use this app more effectively with other visitors 🙂