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Make a tornado twister

You will need:

  • two plastic bottles the same size with lids
  • a hammer and thick nail to poke a hole in the lids
  • thick, waterproof stickytape
  • food colouring
  • glitter



  1. Make a hole in the center of two bottle lids using a thick nail.
  2. Using some thick, canvas-backed plastic tape (needs to be waterproof), attach the lids together so that the tops of the lids are touching and the hole goes through both lids.
  3. Fill one bottle 3/4 full with water, food colouring and glitter.
  4. Attach the lids to the bottles so that one bottle sits on top of the other. Invert so that the water runs from one bottle to the other. Observe what happens.
  5. Invert the bottles again, and this time, give the bottles a rapid twirl in a horizontal direction. This should start off your vortex, or 'tornado in a bottle'.
Tornado twister
Kids love the tornado in a bottle activity!
Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love
Be Amazing!
How to teach science, the way primary kids love

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Why does this work?

The vortex spins because of centripetal force - the one that famously makes an ice skater spinning on the spot twirl faster when his or her arms are pulled into their body. As the water spins, it moves faster at the base of the bottle, where the bottle neck is smaller. The faster-moving water pulls the water down into the bottle.

At the same time, air from the bottom bottle is let into the top bottle because of the shape of the vortex, which allows a funnel for the air to flow. Because the air and water can both flow freely while the water is spinning, the water pours into the bottom bottle faster than it did when there was no vortex.

Other air pressure based science experiments
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