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A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extents from the ground up to the clouds. They are typically in the form of a funnel (often called a funnel clouds), with the narrow end of the funnel touching the earth. With winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, tornadoes are capable of causing wide spread destruction by leveling building, uprooting trees, and picking up objects and dropping them miles away.
Tornadoes that develop over land are also called twisters or cyclones. We learned about tornadoes when we read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather. - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
You know we have to turn our learning into a hands-on activity so we decided to make own tornado in a bottle!
This is an easy and fun experiment that you can do at home to demonstrate the power of a vortex. Kids will be able to (safely!) see a vortex in action—a perfect activity to use when studying hurricanes, tornadoes or maelstroms.
- Two 2-liter plastic soda bottles
- Vortex Bottle Connector/Tornado Tube OR Duct Tape
- Optional: colored lamp oil or food coloring; glitter; small plastic figures such as LEGOs
- Fill one of the bottles 2/3 full of water. If desired, add either colored lamp oil or food coloring, and/or glitter/small plastic figures to represent “debris”
- Connect the empty bottle on top of the bottle of water using either a Vortex Bottle Connector OR Duct Tape (if you use Duct Tape, you may wish to place a small metal washer between the 2 bottles for a more secure connection). Make sure your bottles are securely connected to prevent leaking.
- Flip the bottles over, so that the water filled bottle is on top and gently swirl your bottles in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction to create vortex.
Sit back and enjoy your hurricane / maelstrom / tornado in a bottle!
You can print these directions and learn even more about extreme weather by downloading our FREE Extreme Weather Checklist.
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