Tornado in a Bottle

Supplies needed to simulate a tornado in a bottle

Purpose

To observe a tornado

Materials

  • Two, 2-litre plastic soft drink bottles
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Cloth or paper towels
The first bottle is half-filled with green-coloured water and the mouth of the bottle is covered with duct tapeThe second bottle is placed mouth to mouth with the first bottle and duct-taped into position

Method

The bottles have been inverted and the green-coloured water is beginning to flow through the small hole in the duct tape, causing a vortex to form in the remaining water
  1. Fill one of the bottles with water until it is half full. Add a few drops of food coloring to make the water more visible.
  2. Cut a piece of duct tape which is 5 centimeters long and cover the mouth of the bottle which contains the water.
  3. With the pencil, make a hole in the center of the duct tape. Make sure that the hole is a little bigger than the pencil.
  4. Take the second bottle and turn it upside down on top of the bottle containing the water, so that the mouths of the bottle line up. With the cloth or paper towel, wipe any moisture from the necks of the 2 bottles.
  5. Cut more duct tape and wrap it around the necks of the bottles so they are firmly attached.
  6. Hold the 2 bottles by the neck; invert them so that the bottle containing the water is on top, and immediately start spinning them in circles.
  7. Put the bottles on the table, with the empty on the bottom.
  8. Watch what happens

Observations

A closeup of the vortex in the water; it looks like a tornado as the water drains to the bottle below

The water takes on the shape of a funnel and looks like a tornado.

Conclusions

Tornadoes are fast, violent swirling winds. In this experiment, the spinning of the bottles caused the water to take the shape of a tornado. The hole in the bottle allowed for the appearance of the tornado's tail - the most dangerous part of the tornado.

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