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In this activity, learners create a tornado in a bottle to observe a spiraling, funnel-shaped vortex. A simple connector device allows water to drain from a 2-liter bottle into a second bottle. Learners can observe the whirling water and then repeat the process by inverting the bottle. Use this activity to talk about surface tension, pressure, gravity, friction, angular momentum, and centripetal force.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Two 2-liter soda bottles
  • A Tornado Tube™ plastic connector (available from science museums, science stores, novelty stores, and some scientific supply companies). Or you can make your own using a washer with a 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) hole and electrical tape.
  • A small dropper bottle of food coloring and/or bits of paper (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
      • Rotation Motion
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access