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TORNADO IN A BOTTLE

Make a tornado in a bottle

Suitable For

Grade 8

Difficulty

2

Time Required

 <24 Hours

Supervision

Advised

What’s it about?

Each year, close to a thousand tornadoes touch down in the United States, far more than in any other country. Three out of every four tornadoes in the world happen in the US and Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas make up Tornado alley, where tornadoes strike regularly in the spring and early summer.

A tornado usually starts off as a white or gray cloud but if it stays around for a while, the dirt and debris it sucks up eventually turns it black. Tornados, also called ‘twisters’, are both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

Fortunately scientists know a lot more about tornados than in the past and can, for the most part, predict when and where they will occur. In this science experiment we will create a ‘whirlpool’ tornado in a bottle to replicate the powerful vortex of tornado motion and learn how they move:

Topics covered

Tornado, Vortex

What will I need?

  • BOWL
  • FUNNEL
  • 2x CLEAR PLASTIC BOTTLES
  • SUNFLOWER OIL
  • FINE SEEDS
  • MODELLING CLAY
  • DUCT TAPE
  • METAL SAW
  • WASHER

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

Similar to a real tornado, the whirlpool tornado in this science experiment is shaped by very powerful forces. Real tornadoes occur when hot and cold streams of air suddenly collide. The two colliding layers of hot and cold air have very different pressures and densities, and causes a powerful convection current to occur as the hot air struggles to rise through the cooler air. The convection current then starts to rotate upward and accelerate, and crosswinds add to the whirling column of air effect. The bottom narrow part of the tornado spins faster than the wider part, with a larger diameter on top, and draws the tornado down in a wedge until it touches the ground.

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