Activities-In-Action: Tornado in a Bottle

Our first Activity in Action comes from our very own student research assistants. We gave them a break from the daily grind to try one of the activities from our STEM-Works website, and since tornadoes have been such a hot topic as of late they decided to go with the Twister in a Bottle activity. Read on to learn about their experience!

 Tornado in a Bottle

Like it or not, tornadoes are a part of our world. The recent tragedy in Oklahoma motivated us to find out why these powerful weather phenomena occur. In this experiment we decided to make our own little tornado to learn more about the science and mechanics behind them.

This easy experiment is something you can do using materials you can find in your own house! We used two bottles, duct tape, water, and food coloring to create our own tornado.Materials0

Firstly, we poured water into one of the water bottles, then we added three drops of food coloring.Preparation 1

Secondly, we taped the two water bottles together at their mouths, leaving the water in the bottom bottle.Preparation 2

Lastly, we inverted the bottle with the water on the top and gave it a twist!Experiment 4

We found that the colored water swirled from the bottle on the top bottle to the bottle on the bottom, just like the wind pattern of a tornado! But don’t take our word for it… Try this experiment yourself. What results do you come up with? Can you change the size or shape of this experiment?

Want to learn more about the inner workings of a tornado? Check out this video taken by a camera placed directly in the path of a tornado.