How to Create Your Own Tornado

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A tornado is a rotating funnel of air that comes into contact with the earth and the sky. Winds of 40 to 100 miles per hour are common for most tornadoes. These storms are beautiful to watch because they are usually accompanied by lightning, rain and strange colored skies. Many people make a living out of chasing and filming tornadoes. However, these storms can also be devastating, destroying houses, buildings, cars and land. Creating a tornado in a bottle is a great way to study the rotation and capture the look of the storm without having to experience its destruction.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear plastic soda bottle with lid
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Remove the label and lid from an empty, clear plastic soda bottle. Throw away the label, but keep the lid close because you will use it again in this project.

  • Pour in a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part vegetable oil. Any light-colored oil, such as olive oil and mineral oil, can be substituted for the vegetable oil.

  • Drop in food dye until the water is the color you want. Be careful with the dye because a little bit goes a long way. Mix in more than one color to create new colors (red and blue make purple, for example). The label on the back of the food coloring box usually shows which colors to mix to make new colors.

  • Twist the lid on the soda bottle securely. Shake up the bottle to mix the dye and the oil.

  • To create a tornado, shake the bottle vigorously in a circle and set it down. The oil separates from the water and creates a cyclone effect.

References

  • "Everything Kids' Magical Science Experiments Book: Dazzle your friends and family by making magical things happen!"; Tom Robinson; 2007
  • Photo Credit rouge image by berdoulat jerome from Fotolia.com
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