Tornado in a Bottle

By | April 11, 2013
Tornado in a Bottle

For those of you who live in the Midwest you know we are now in Tornado Season.  I don’t particularly like tornado’s they pretty much just freak me out.  I have never seen one nor do I ever want to (well outside of this Tornado in a Bottle experiment that is).

Each year since we moved here we have had to spend a night in the basement because of the possibility of tornado’s.  My oldest daughter is pretty curious about things right now and asks a TON of questions (I guess that is normal for a 5 year old).  So I thought this would be a great experiment to show her what a tornado was and for us to talk about it a little before we start practicing our tornado drills (hey you can never be too prepared).

Both girls thought our vortex was really cool, and we of course had to do this about 500 times over several days because they liked it so much.  The good news is you can keep your bottle around and just keep making vortex’s for days maybe even weeks if you want too.  And if you live in an area where you have a lot of tornado’s this is a great way to open up the topic with the kids and answer any questions they may have.

What is happening with this experiment? When you shake/spin the bottle the circular motion causes a vortex that looks like a tornado.  This is happening due to centripetal force.  Centripetal force is an inward force directing the fluid towards the center of its circular path.  Natural Vortex’s are Tornado’s, Water Spouts, Whirlpools and Hurricanes.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other Weather Experiments!

Check out our SPRING  and SCIENCE boards on Pintrest for more fun ideas!


Round Bottle (we used a Snapple bottle)
Dish Soap


 Fill your bottle with water (leave a little room for air) then put a few drops of dish soap in the bottle
(don’t forget to put the lid back on!)
(shaking in a circular motion works best!)
 Now watch your TORNADO
Then do it again
and again.
We had to do it several times because it is COOL!

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33 thoughts on “Tornado in a Bottle

  1. Jennifer Shelby

    lol – love the look of wonder on your oldest girl’s face! We don’t have tornadoes here (knock on wood), and although frightening, I’m sure those basement campouts could be fun too. My dad grew up in a ‘tornado zone’ and he regaled us with stories when I was little; needless to say they’ve all become epic myths of my super-hero dad fighting the evil tornado!

  2. Lula B @

    What a wonderfully simple but effective experiment! Love your photos – the top one of the back-lit tornado, and your girls’ brilliant expressions :-) I’m pinning to do with my kids.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lucinda (visiting via Hobbies & Handicrafts)

  3. Christie Daruwalla

    Ok, this is totally cool! My daughter would love it. Thanks so much for sharing on Thursdays Treasures. Your project will be one of my features.

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    Right on, Tony! Each and every adult in Lakewood could and should reach out to one child or youth who needs a hand up, not a handout. Spend some time with that young person, model the values that make a community a great place to live. Build a bridge from the older to the younger generations and then watch those young people grow and bloom into successful students who graduate and become good citizens, good employees, and leaders of tomorrow.

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