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Make a Tornado in your Second Grade Class

written by: Alicia • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/20/2012

This project will help teachers direct their students to better understand how a tornado works. Each student can make their own or the teacher can have the students work together to make one.

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    You will need the following items to make a tornado in your classroom:

    1. 2- Empty Two-Liter Soda Bottles
    2. Duct Tape
    3. Water
    4. Glitter
    5. Electric Screwdriver or Drill
    6. A lazy susan or something that will spin the finished project (if you do not have anything you can just use your hands)
    7. Notebooks
    8. Pencils

    Follow the steps below to create the tornado:

    1. Take one cap off of one of the soda bottles.
    2. Hold the cap on top of the cap that is attached to the bottle. Both flat sides should be against one another.
    3. Drill a hole into the center of both caps. This can be done with a screw and an electric screwdriver. Drill the screw through the caps, and then reverse the screw out of the bottle caps to create the hole.*
    4. Fill the soda bottle that doesn't have the cap on it about 3/4 full of water.
    5. Sprinkle some glitter inside of the bottle.
    6. Screw the cap back onto the soda bottle.
    7. Take the empty soda bottle and hold it upside down over the water-filled soda bottle so that both caps are in alignment with one another.
    8. Tape the caps and bottle necks together with duct tape. Wrap it well, so that water cannot leak out during the experiment.
    9. Give the children time to write the process of creating the tornado bottles into their science notebooks. They can label the top of the page, "Tornado Experiment".
    10. Place the bottles onto an object that spins. This could be a "Lazy Susan", that is used to distribute food to everyone around a table, or it can be an old record player.
    11. If you do not have a spinner, then quickly flip the bottle upside down so that all the water is on top. Swish it around in a circular motion several times, very fast, and place it onto the table.
    12. Observe what happens to the water. Can you see the tornado?
    13. Have the students record what happened into their notebooks. How do they think that they created the tornado?
    14. Ask students if they have ever seen anything like this before. They may mention how the water goes down the toilet or how the water goes down the drain in the bathtub.
    15. Review vortexes and how they work in water and in the air.

    *Steps one through three can be done at home, or in a wood-shop classroom, by the teacher prior to the activity.

    Image by gianni t.

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