Doppler 9&10 STEM: How Do You Put a Tornado in a Box?

Teachers & Parents:File 0001

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Hello all, Madison Ryke here!

Normally our instructions are pretty cut and dry on how to recreate the experiment. This write-up will be more of a guide on what I learned along the way and how I got to the end result. If you recreate this project at home you may have to change procedures or work with what you have to make the end result.

Buckle up, It’s Time to put on the lab coat and do your best mad scientist laugh. This is not an experiment for the faint of heart, but, boy, does it look cool! Parents you will certainly be needed in this experiment.

*cracks knuckles*

Here is what you will need:File 000

2 Large Cardboard Boxes

2 Pieces of Clear Plastic or Plexiglass (they need to be the same height and slightly narrower than the boxes)

Glue ( I wound up using both hot glue and super glue)

a Box Cutter

A Dark Paint

A Small USB fan

Dry ice

bowl of warm water

Optional add-ons

LED Lights for a little added coolness

LED Puck Lights for extra lighting


I started by building the box. My box and Plexiglas sheets were basically the same sizes. In order to have the inflow slots, I needed to refold and glue the box so that all the sides were the same size.

I took the box cutter and cut two of the side of the box out. This is where things get tricky and all I can tell you is hot glue was my best friend here.

Then I used super glue to glue the plexiglass pieces to the inside of the box leaving a two-inch gap on the right side of the box for air to enter.

After that I cut 2-inch slits on the other 2 sides of the box, making sure that they were all on the right side of the box.

Now we need to make the lid, the only air that enters the box needs to come through the slits in the sides so we need a closed box.

I folded box number two so that it was the same size as the other box, glued it together, and cut off the top of the box. It fit perfectly over the top of my box.

I cut out a hole in the top that was the size of my USB fan and popped that in. Make sure when you turn the fan on that the side that is blowing air out is facing up. You want is to be sucking the air from inside of the box and forcing it up and out of the box.

Now is when you start to make it pretty.

I sealed up any holes in the sides, cleaned up the edges of the cardboard, and started to paint.

It doesn’t matter what color you paint it but make sure that it is a dark color, otherwise, you won’t be able to see the tornado well.

Add in your lights, led, or puck lights and you are ready for the magic!

Put a bowl of lukewarm water in the base.

Close the lid, grab some dry ice and tongs, and you are ready to go.

What is happening? 

The fan is drawing the water vapor created by the dry ice up, as it does the slits in the side will allow air to rush in from the outside as well. The positioning of the slots is important because if they are positioned right they create spin inside of the box. This makes the vapor wrap around itself and spins upward through the fan just like how tornadoes are created in thunderstorms.

If your kiddos try this experiment, send us photos of you and your experiment and you might get to see it during weather on The Four on Tuesdays!

Make sure you tune in every Tuesday for a New 9&10 STEM. Send us an email at or find us on Facebook and at Doppler 9&10 Weather Team if you have a weather question or want something in science explained! It does not have to be weather-related! Anything Science or math-based we’ve got you! You can always get the latest forecast on as well as interact with us on social media!

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Categories: Doppler 9&10 STEM, the four