Science with Samantha: Tornado in a Bottle

The tornado in a bottle experiment explores the concept of centripetal force. This is an inward-facing force that pulls the water within the bottle toward the center of the circular path. This inward Tornado Bottle Experiemtnmotion drives the water to the center, allowing air from the base bottle to push into the top bottle, and the water to circle down and out in a vortex. The effects of the centripetal force can be found all throughout the atmosphere in things such as water spouts, tornados, and hurricanes. Test it out for yourself!

Tornado in a Bottle 

Ingredients Needed: 

  1. 2 Liter Bottles (x’s 2) 
  2. Water 
  3. Tornado Tube (Purchase on Amazon) or Duck Tape & Metal Washer 

Optional

  1. Food Coloring 
  2. Glitter
  3. Dish Soap 
  4. Lava Lamp Fluid 

Some Questions To Prompt The Activity 

  1. What is a force?
  2. Which way does the centripetal force point?
  3. What is your safety plan if there is a tornado threat in your area?

Experiment Steps:

  1. Fill one of the 2-liter bottles ¾ of the way full of water. 
  2. Add in any extra items such as food coloring, glitter, dish soap, or lava lamp fluid. 
  3. Option 1: Twist the tornado tube onto both bottles connecting the two. 
  4. Option 2: Place the metal washer between the two bottles and duck tape them together. 
  5. Flip the bottle with water in it upside down and move it in a circular motion. 
  6. You should see your Tornado vortex form! 
  7. Repeat as many times as you want. 
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