You can't see air, but you can watch for the signs that show that air is moving in this exhibition. Balance balls on streams of air, shoot a puff of air across the room with the "Air Cannon," speed through the "Air Race," puzzle out the complexities of the "Air Maze," and more. Nine separate exhibit components demonstrate the complexity and beauty of moving air. (Exhibition created by the Montshire Museum)
This is the entrance piece to the exhibit, and is a set of fabric panels which flutter and flap as air blows upwards from their base. A mesmerizing effect!
Discover how moving air changes the shape of the landscape! Watch as the air blown by a fan moves and rearranges sand inside the chamber. Notice that the sand always creates patterns, not smooth surfaces.
No ammunition needed except a gentle slap on the rubber backing of the "cannon." After you strike, watch the flutter disks on the wall—you can see the shape of the puff of air as it strikes the disks. Fire away!
Engineers who design heating duct systems for houses have to figure out the number of turns and lengths of all the air passageways before they can decide on the size of ducts and fans. They know that before air can flow into a passageway, there must be an opening at the end of the passage. Blow a foam ball through the maze—see if you can change the direction of the ball by opening or closing the doors. It's air-mazing!
Air flowing through a passage rubs along the inside of the tube and its flow becomes turbulent. The longer (or more "wiggly") the passage, the more energy air will lose. In this exhibit, you and a friend can "race" two small balls by dropping them through a pair of blowholes at the same time. Their paths are exactly the same length: Which ball will arrive at the finish line first?
This is like juggling with air! See how many small foam balls you can balance from the airstreams coming out of several transparent tubes. Discover how to get the balls to drop down into one tube and pop out of another, to balance more than one on a stream of air, and to hover halfway up the tube.
We can't see air, but we can see its footprints—waving flags, ripples on a pond, or swaying fields of wheat all indicate that air is moving. Turn on the switch to this exhibit and direct an air hose at the wall of flutter disks. The disks move in a "watery" way because air flows the way a fluid does.
When moving air pushes directly on a sail, it gives up some of its energy to the sail, and pushes the sailboat along in the same direction. Give it a try yourself by sailing model boats away from, across, and into the wind.
Air flowing through a tube pushes a ball along with it. Put a short tube on one of the air "hydrants" and run a ball through it. Then, add sections of the tube to make the path longer. Does the ball behave differently? What happens if you cover the end of the pipe with your hand?