Tornadoes can be very scary and dangerous, but this fun Tornado Experiment makes it very easy to teach kids about tornados in a very simple and not scary way!
Get more fun Weather Experiments for Kids here!
I am a huge weather nerd and enjoy any chance I get to make my own tornadoes! My 5-year-old daughter even helped me with this one and loved it!
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Make Your Own Tornado
- Fill the jar about 3/4 full with water.
- Add some food coloring of your choice.
- Screw the lid on tight (glue it for extra security).
- Twirl the jar to get the tornado spinning.
Step 1: Fill The Jar About 3/4 Full With Water
Let’s get started with this simple tornado in a jar experiment by pouring some water into a clear glass jar.
Add water into the jar until the jar is about three quarters of the way filled with water from the top.
Step 2: Add Food Coloring
Now put a small drop of food coloring into the water-filled jar.
We decided to use blue food coloring to make the tornado look the most realistic, but you can use whatever color you want.
Just be careful to only add a very small amount of food coloring.
If you add too much, the water will not be transparent enough for you to see the tornado very well.
Step 3: Screw The Lid On Tight
Screw the lid on very tightly to prevent any colored water from leaking out of the jar and making a mess.
If you plan to let your kids keep their tornado in a jar as a long-term toy, then you might even want to use a hot glue gun to secure the lid!
Step 4: Twirl The Jar To Start A Tornado
Now all that is left to do is give the jar a nice little spin to make your own tornado!
Pick up the jar and move it quickly in a circular motion to get the water spinning fast inside.
Then set the jar down on a level surface and watch as the water inside creates a tornado by sucking air bubbles into the middle of the jar!
Repeat the process over and over as many times as you want. You can even have a challenge to see who can make the biggest, strongest tornado!
If you thought this tornado experiment was pretty cool, you will probably want to check out this Tornado in a Bottle Experiment too!
What Is The Science Behind A Tornado In A Jar?
Your tornado in a jar is much safer than a real-life tornado of course, but the science behind how it forms is actually very similar to a real tornado!
When the jar is shaken in a circular motion, it will make the water inside spin very quickly.
The water in the center of the jar moves slower than the water near the outside of the jar and a vortex forms inside the jar.
Since there is air and water in the jar, the circulation of the water pulls some of the air above down into the center of the spinning water.
This is what creates the appearance of a tornado inside the jar!
What Causes A Tornado?
Tornadoes form when warm, moist air rises through an updraft of a thunderstorm and the air begins to spin.
The spinning motion of a tornado happens thanks to something called wind shear.
Wind shear is when the wind direction in the atmosphere changes directions as the air in the updraft moves higher into the sky.
If the air in the thunderstorm updraft spins fast enough, it will create a funnel cloud that will drop down out of the clouds and touch the ground as a tornado!
The stronger these winds are that are changing directions at different levels in the cloud, along with how strong the updraft of air rising from the ground will determine if you have an EF-0 tornado or an EF-5 tornado!
In our tornado in a jar experiment, the faster and stronger we shake the jar in a circular motion, the larger and stronger your tornado will also be!