Make your own tornado-in-a-bottle! You can keep the filled bottle and come back to it again and again for more cyclone-making, once the water settles.
What you’ll need:
- Clear bottle or other tall, shatterproof container with a lid
- Dish soap
- Glitter or food coloring (optional, but may make it easier to see the tornado)
- Fill your container about ¾ full with clean water.
- Add a squirt of dish soap, as well as your glitter or food coloring, if desired
- Seal the container tightly.
- Move the bottle rapidly in a circular motion. After a few seconds, you should see the water begin swirling. Stop, and watch your tornado!
Try experimenting with more or less water. Does the amount of water in your bottle have any effect on the size and speed of the tornado?
Using a bigger bottle may also result in larger tornados, which will be easier to observe.
The tornado in your bottle is caused by "centripetal force" – an inward-facing force that pulls an object or liquid toward the center of its circular path. The twister created in your bottle is caused by the water in the bottle spinning towards the center of the bottle, or vortex.
Watch this video or check out this page to learn about how tornados form in the air.
This activity could present a good opportunity, also, to talk about tornado safety with your children, and what your family would do in the event of a tornado warning.