Tornado Impacts | Tornado Story | How Tornadoes Form | Activities | Tornado Safety

Make a Tornado in a Jar!

The swirling winds of a tornado are called a vortex. In this experiment you will make a vortex that looks like a real tornado! While real tornadoes happen in air, the vortex you make in this activity is in water. Both air and water are fluids. That means that they move in similar ways.

What you will need:

  • 8 oz. jar with lid
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Clear liquid dish soap
  • A pinch of glitter

Make it happen!

  1. Fill the jar 3/4 full of water.
  2. Put in one teaspoon of vinegar and one teaspoon of dish soap.
  3. Sprinkle in a small amount of glitter.
  4. Close the lid and twist the jar to swirl the water and see a vortex like a tornado form in the center of the jar.

What's happening?

As you twist the jar, the water inside up against the glass is pulled along due to its friction again the glass walls. The fluid toward the inside takes longer to get moving. But eventually both the glass jar and the fluid are spinning as you rotate the bottle. When you stop rotating the jar, the fluid inside keeps spinning. A mini twister can be seen for just a few seconds when the outer fluid slows down and the inner fluids continue to spin rapidly. Try it again!

Click here to find out how real tornadoes form!

Try it! Make a more complex model of a tornado!