Make a tornado in a bottle

Simple activity for kids

Rebecca Barry shares a different weather-related science activity you can do with your kids to help them stay engaged until school resumes.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While we are practicing social distance and online learning to flatten the curve in the coronavirus pandemic, you might struggle at times to keep your kids engaged. I’m sharing my favorite weather-related activities for kids to break up the day.

Kids love learning about tornadoes! No one likes actual tornadoes, obviously, but kids get excited about to learn about tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, severe weather has a certain “cool” factor.

For this activity click here for great information you and your child can talk read and learn about how tornadoes form. UCAR’s Center For Science Education’s website explains that tornadoes are columns of air rotating dangerously fast. The air is in motion because of the difference in pressure between the center of the tornado (very low pressure) and the outer edge of the tornado (high pressure). Some tornadoes are narrow, only 250 feet (75 meters) across where they touch the ground. Other, massive tornadoes can be up to two miles across. Often a tornado will touch the ground for only a few minutes and travel less than a mile. But some tornadoes touchdown for much longer, plowing through several towns, neighborhoods or farms.

Click here for an interactive game to help teach your kids about tornado safety.

To make your own tornado in a bottle you’ll need water, non-concentrated dish soap, and a tall, skinny clear bottle. The best bottle is the super-fancy water bottle by VOSS, but I don’t have any of those sitting around either.

There is a step-by-step breakdown of this experiment with pictures here...

First fill the bottle 3/4 of the way full with water. Add one drop of dish soap and seal tightly. If you let this sit for a little while, it will be much easier to make your tornado.

Shake the bottle and start to swirl it around and roll your wrist. Spinning the rolling the bottle creates a vortex in the bottle that looks like a mini tornado!