Can you make a glitter tornado with only one bottle? With a little muscle and centripetal force you can!
Make your own bottled cyclone with this fun and easy science experiment. Watch our demonstration video, gather your materials, and print out our instruction sheet to get started. Then, explore how and why the vortex is made with our easy to understand explanation of how the experiment works below.
- Empty Glass Bottle with Lid
- 3-4 tablespoons Glitter (the more glitter the better!)
Step 1 – Use the funnel to put 3-4 tablespoons of glitter in an empty glass jar. Helpful Tip: The more glitter you use, the better you will be able to see the tornado. And after all, you can never have too much glitter, right?
Step 2 – Next, fill the jar about 3/4 full of water.
Step 3 – Put the lid back on the jar and make sure it is really tight.
Step 4 – Turn the bottle upside down and quickly move the bottle in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds.
Step 5 – Finally, set the bottle down on the table and observe the tornado that has formed. Helpful Tip: It will take some practice to get the tornado to show up as much as the one in the picture above. But even with a little shaking, a child should be able to get the water and glitter to spin around in the bottle.
Do you know the why you were able to create a tornado in a bottle? Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below.
When you spin the bottle in a circular motion it creates a water vortex that looks like a tornado. The water spins around the center of the vortex because of centripetal force.
Centripetal force is any force that causes an object (in this case water) to move in a circular path.
Because there is glitter in the water you can see the spinning water more clearly. The glitter is similar to the dust and debris that are found spinning in an actual tornado.
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: