Friday, August 19, 2011

Tornado in a Bottle

So far the tornado sirens have only gone off twice this Spring/Summer season. This is a reality of living in the Midwest; tornadoes are the worst kind of severe weather we experience here (although one could argue that flooding and copious amounts of snowfall are no picnic either).

To give my son the closest glimpse of a twister that I hope he’ll ever get, we decided to make our own tornado in a bottle out of two, 2-liter plastic soda bottles. This is a pretty popular science project and after doing it, we know why: it’s SO cool!

Simply fill one of the bottles two-thirds full with water. Add food coloring if desired. Place the second, empty bottle upside down atop the first and apply duct tape liberally to the neck of the bottles. Expect the bottles to leak some.

Once taped, flip the bottles and swirl them in a circular motion. Watch the water spiral from the top bottle to the bottom bottle in a tornado shape. (Even little brother thought this was awesome!)

After we finished, we read Charles and Debra Ghigna’s Step-Into-Reading fiction book Barn Storm. In this book, a twister moves farm animals to unexpected new homes. The cows now sleep in the children’s bedroom at night. Super silly!

Finally, my son watched a short montage of video footage of tornados on, the site with the tornado-in-a-bottle instructions we used.

Our conclusion … tornadoes are cool to make and cool to watch on video – but NOT so cool to experience.


  1. Love your blog -- adding to the sidebar of mine and following!!!

  2. What great educational ideas you have! I'm a new follower.
    Thanks for the sweet comment on my "displaying kids' artwork" post!