To demonstrate how the vortex of a tornado works in nature by mimicking the environment that produces a tornado.
There are some aspects of this project that may require the help of an adult.
- 2 empty soda bottles (2 liter), washed out and with caps
- Duct tape
- Caulking (silicone) – can easily be found at any hardware store
- Water (can be tap or distilled)
Estimated Experiment Time
The set up and complete assembly of the tornado demonstration takes between an hour and two hours.
- 1. You will first need an adult to help drill holes in the caps of the soda bottles.
- 2. After drilling, use the silicone caulking to seal the caps (tops pressed together) without blocking the holes. Make sure you let the caulking dry completely before proceeding to assemble the remainder of the tornado demonstration.
- 3. Fill one of the soda bottles ½ full of water. Screw one side of the plastic cap onto the soda bottle. The other side of the cap should be ready for the second soda bottle.
- 4. Screw the second soda bottle onto the cap.
- 5. Apply duct tape to the caps, sealing them tight so air and water cannot get in or out.
- 6. Add any finishing touches that you like to decorate your tornado demonstration.
You can also add fun items to the water such as food coloring or metallic confetti to increase the visual appeal of the demonstration. Confetti is an excellent add on as it will highlight the different aspects of the spinning vortex. If you choose to add anything, add it when you add the water to the first bottle.
To demonstrate the vortex of a tornado, grasp the center of the bottles (where the duct tape is) and flip it over so the water is on the top. Move the bottle in a few quick circular motions to begin the swirling motion that will create the vortex.
The water funneling down into the empty soda bottle will create a vortex similar to a tornado’s vortex. You can watch this demonstration and get a clear idea of how a tornado works in real life – how the rain surrounds the vortex of the tornado, making it powerful and destructive. If you’ve added confetti to your demonstration, you can relate this to debris getting caught up in the tornado’s vortex.
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