25 Days of STEAM: Tornado In A Bottle

25 Days of STEAM: Day Twenty-Three

Tornado In A Bottle

 

This hands-on science activity is a fun way to introduce children to the basics of centripetal force. We recommend it for children 7 and up!

 

As with all science experiments, safety is extremely important! We always recommend wearing safety goggles. Parent supervision is required.

 

Supplies You’ll Need:

 

  • A 12 oz. Empty Soda Bottle

 

  • Water

 

  • Dish Soap

 

  • Glitter

 

  • Safety Goggles

 

Instructions:

 

  • Remove the wrapper from around the plastic bottle – as well as the cap. Rinse it out so that there is no residue.

 

  • Pour a pinch or two of glitter into the bottle.

 

  • Add a few drops of dish washing soap.

 

  • Fill the bottle with water so that it is 2/3rds full. Place the cap back on.

 

  • Flip the bottle upside down so that you are holding it by the neck. Move your hand in a circular motion for several minutes. Stop the movement and observe.

 

What is happening?

 

 

When you spin the bottle in a circular motion, you are creating an “underwater tornado” (a vortex). In a vortex, water spins real rapidly around a center point. This is due to what’s called centripetal force.  A tornado is a type of vortex that exists due to the violent rotation of air around a central point. In this science activity, you can see the “tornado” through the bottle. The water and glitter represents the air.

Science Vocabulary:

 

  • Centripetal Force – (n.) an inward force directing an object or fluid such as water towards the center of its circular path