Cyclone in a Bottle

Your little scientists had a blast with this hands-on experiment. They used jars, bottles, water, a funnel, and dish soap to create a cyclone in a jar! To initiate this activity, your little one learned that tornadoes form when cold and hot air combine and spin very quickly.


They also learned that the swirling winds of a tornado are called a vortex. Following this brief introduction, they poured water into containers until they were about ¾ full.


This component of the activity required teamwork. One of the students would hold the bottle, while the other one poured the liquid in. Then we added a few squirts of dish soap.


It really did not take much and we took the funnel off for this part so we would not have to wait for it to drip through the funnel. Then we added two drops of food coloring.


Next, we put the funnel back on to add in some glitter. This made the tornado easier to see. We talked about debris and how tornadoes have high winds that can break things and carry debris to other places.


To view our tornadoes, the kids turned their bottles upside down and held them by the neck. Then they quickly spun the bottle in circular motion for a few seconds.


When they stopped, they were able to see a mini tornado forming in the water!As a result of this activity, your budding meteorologist experimented with the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect.


Students also participated in inquiry-based science, which enabled them to formulate explanations based on evidence, and then connect those explanations to the topic at hand.





Waterspout Tornadoes

Waterspout tornadoes fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms.


To help your little one grasp the idea of the waterspout tornado, we created our very own at the water table. Using pre-made funnels, constructed of paper and plastic bags, we produced whirlpools, watching with glee as our “tornadoes” sloshed the water around the water table, sucking up fish and other debris. This activity enabled your little one to explore the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect. Young children are naturally curious. To help foster their understanding of how the world works, it is essential that they learn about the various weather patterns that exist, and the interactions between them. This activity also cultivated their observation skills.