Taking a break from the books because we need a variation in our routine with everything going on right now, we are doing several days of hands-on learning with some upcoming unit studies. Today, we are learning about how humidity is measured in a desert, so we made an easy diy hair hygrometer.
Look at this list of supplies that you probably have on hand too at your house.
►Cardboard about a foot long and 9 inches wide
►A piece of thin cardboard. Ours was a bit too thick, you really want it thin here to make the pointer.
►A pair of scissors
►A strand of hair that’s one foot long
►A hot glue gun
►pen for marking
►small cloth tape measure or regular tape measure
Make an Easy DIY Hair Hygrometer
Hygro comes from a Greek word that means moisture or wet and a hygrometer is a way to measure the humidity in the air.
An easy diy hair hygrometer is a great way to see a visual and learn how the humidity is measured in a desert because everybody understands a bad hair day. And hair behaves differently when the humidity is high or low.
This is the objective of this activity; when it’s humid, hair increases in length and when the air is dry, hair will shorten.
Look at this site where we got this idea from. It says:
Hair is made from keratin, a protein that is wound into a coil. The turns of the coil are held together by a type of chemical bond called a hydrogen bond. Hydrogen bonds break in the presence of water, allowing the coil to stretch and the hair to lengthen. The bonds re-form when the hair dries, which allows people to style their hair simply by wetting it, shaping it, then drying it.
Here is what we did.
1. Take the bigger piece of cardboard (called base) and cut two slits in the top about one inch from the left and separate the two slits about 1/4 inch.
2. Take the thin piece of cardboard and make a triangle pointer about 6 inches long. Then measure about half way down the base and over from the left about one inch. Attach the pointer there with a pushpin.
3. Take the hair strand, (I put some hot glue on one end at the top to keep it from coming out of the slit, slippery little sucker) and string it through both the top and bottom slits. Glue a dab of hot glue in place on top to hold the strand and a dab at the bottom to hold it.
And if all this sound like blah, blah, blah. Look at this picture.
Attach the pointer to the base with a pushpin 1/2 inch from the left edge in the center. Take your time so your hair doesn’t break. Too, this works with healthy hair. If it is brittle, you won’t be able to pull it carefully taunt.
4. Hot glue the hair in place in both sets of slits, then hot glue a dime 1 -1/2 inches from the left edge of the pointer base.
Next, Tiny took it to the shower.
While he was showering, as you can see in the picture above, the hair lengthened because of the humidity and the pointer went down. That was humid or 100% humidity if you want to calibrate and use it to make other measurements for the day.
Your kid can take this outside during different parts of the day to see what it does and measure the pointer by marking it on the base for different times of the day. Record the time to see how humidity changes during the day.
Just remember, use a THIN piece of cardboard for the pointer because Tiny had to take an extra long shower because our pointer was heavy. He didn’t mind doing that this morning though.
Anyway, if your child takes it out during different parts of the day, he can calibrate where it points and learn how much moisture is in the air.
To hurry the process on along though, we got a blow dryer after it and the hair coiled and the pointer came back up to dry. This helps to understand humidity in the morning versus humidity in the afternoon.
Humidity is one way to describe how much water vapor is in the air and the hair hygrometer was such an accurate way to measure water vapor that it was used for many years.
Relating this to the Sonoran Desert, we learned that during the hottest, driest parts of the year in the Sonoran Desert the humidity may be around 15%. In other non-desert locations the humidity may be 80% or more.
Though we know deserts are very dry places, this really helped us to see why they are.
Also, look at my blog post, 365 Days Hands-On Homeschool Activities – One for EVERY Day of the Year for more ideas and look at my category for hands-on ideas for your unit studies.
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