I really enjoyed learning about appropriate technology with my family this week; and, since my kids were really interested in creating tools to measure the phenology of our farm, I decided to combine both assignments by making our own appropriate technology. Applying the criteria for appropriate technology, my kids and I made a barometer with locally available materials from our recycling bin and kitchen junk drawer. It’s simple and easy to understand; it’s flexible, and highly affordable, it’s recyclable and uses renewable power. Our efforts support collective labor and conviviality since our family had a lot of fun making it. There is a photo posted below. Essentially what we did was to take an old rubber dog booty (that Denny the farm dog can’t stand wearing anyway :) and stretch it across a tin can. We then glued one end of a plastic straw to the center of the rubber booty stretched over the can. Then we cut out a cardboard arrow-shaped “pointer” and glued it to the end of the straw. We drew a horizontal line on a scrap piece of plywood and then screwed the plywood to a base for support. We placed the can, pointer and plywood stand outside and set it up so that the arrow pointed toward the horizontal line drawn on the plywood board. The device operates by having the air inside the can expand during lower pressure, causing the straw and arrow tip to point downwards, signifying “lower pressure”. The best part is that it works! It determines relative barometric pressure (i.e., “fair” or “foul” weather). Last night we watched the arrow point lower and lower as a snowstorm approached. We are still in the process of making a homemade anemometer out of yogurt cups and wood chopsticks that will measure relative wind speed. Like the solar dehydrator and the compost heating system, we enjoy the simplicity and the passive design elements of these weather tools that we made. As one final note, my family has been trying to think of a design to take the steam from the bathroom shower and direct it to the opposite side of the house to our greenhouse, rather than wasting the hot, humid air by venting it outside via the exhaust fan. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to chime in :) !