Pinwheel is a simple toy made of a wheel of paper or plastic curls attached at its axle to a stick by a pin. It is designed to spin when blown upon a person’s breath or by the wind. When the pinwheel is pointed into the wind, or into the path of your breath, the shape of the blades and the power of moving air cause the blades to spin.

Wind turbines work in a similar way. While pinwheels are often crafted for the fun of seeing a kaleidoscope of color, wind turbines take energy from the wind and use it to create electricity!

Pinwheels are easy to make at home, so you can make a bunch and hand them out to kids at a block party or barbecue to keep them entertained and make them learn how wind turbines work. Here is what you need to make your own paper pinwheels:

  • Pinwheel template (download here)
  • Colored paper
  • Bamboo skewer
  • Thumbtack
  • A small bead
  • Scissors.


  1. Stick the non-pointy end of the bamboo skewers into a small glass of water. Once the skewers soak up some water, it will be easier to push the thumbtack into the skewer to attach the pinwheel, and the wood will not splinter.
  2. Cut out the pinwheel template on a colored piece of paper. If you cut the template out by hand, be sure to poke holes using your thumbtack where indicated in the template.
  3. Take one spoke of the pinwheel and push the thumbtack through the hole from the back.
  4. Bend the next spoke over and push the thumbtack through the hole on that spoke as well.
  5. Continue pushing the thumbtack through each individual spoke until the thumbtack is through all four spokes.
  6. Push the thumbtack through the hole in the center of the pinwheel.
  7. Slide the small bead onto the thumbtack.
  8. Push the thumbtack into the wet end of the skewer.
  9. Gently tap the front of the thumbtack with a hammer.
  10. Keep pushing the thumbtack into the skewer until the skewer touches the small bead on the thumbtack.
  11. Be sure not to cover the bead with glue! The bead helps space the pinwheel away from the skewer, allowing the pinwheel to spin freely without getting caught on the skewer as it rotates.

And now you know how to make a pinwheel!


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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