Tornado in a jar : Fizzics Education


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Tornado in a jar

Tornado in a jar

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • A glass jar with a lid
  • Detergent
  • Water


Detergent bottle and a glass jar filled with water on a table
1 Green detergent puring into a glass jar filled with water

Fill the glass jar almost completely with water, leaving a small air space at the top of the jar. Now add a small amount of detergent.

2 A glass jar filled with water being swirled by a hand

Ensuring that the lid is tight, grip the top of the jar and give the jar a quick shake up and down to get some bubbles to form.

Now, quickly swirl the jar around for a couple of seconds. The swirling motion is best done if the bottom of the jar swirls wider than the top of the jar.

3 A swirling bubble tornado inside a glass jar

Stop swirling the jar and you should see a bubble tornado!

4 Expanding foam in a bell jar
5 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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6 A man holding a soda can with tongs and a bunsen burner heating the can base

Get the Unit of Work on Pressure here!

  • Want to dive into air pressure?
  • It’s all about air pressure in many ways!

From how storms form to how planes fly, this unit covers many concepts about air pressure.

Includes cross-curricular teaching ideas, student quizzes, a sample marking rubric, scope & sequences & more

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What is going on?

This is all about momentum, centripetal force & friction!

When you swirl the jar you impart a force on to the liquid, whereby initially the water pushes outwards against the glass. When you stop swirling the jar, friction slows the water touching the edge of the glass. The water is pulled into a funnel-shaped vortex by centripetal force which pulls the water towards the centre of the jar. The water speeds up as it approaches the centre of the jar due to the angular momentum of the water, creating a vortex.

Variable testing

More about variable testing here

  • Try different liquids.. can you form a vortex in thicker liquids?
  • Does it matter if there is no detergent?
  • Try different shaped containers

How do real tornados form?

A classic version of a vortex is a tornado. Find out more about how tornadoes form below;

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

Learn more!


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