Tornado in a jar

Another weather idea in a jar today. Love this one too! You will need: A Jar, a jug of Water (for pouring), washing up liquid, food Colouring (not essential but makes it a bit easier to see), Vinegar (you don't need this but it makes it a bit of an easier experiment). You might want some small beads or some glitter to add once you've tried this!

Fill your jar with water, leaving a 2cm space at the top. Squeeze in a generous squirt of washing up liquid (I used a pipette to pop it in, but a call syringe works well too), then add one or two drops of food colouring. Don’t add more food colouring than that or the water will turn too dark and you won’t be able to see the tornado forming. Now add a squirt (or teaspoon) of vinegar. I honestly have no idea if there is a scientific reason for this, but I've always found that the tornados were much better with the vinegar added, especially when its a child swirling the water around the jar!

Grip the jar with two hands and start swirling it around. Try to be gentle - swirl, rather than shake! The jar can get very bubbly rather quickly, especially if you’re shaking it vigorously. If you have too many bubbles, just open up the jar, and use a spoon to scoop some of the bubbles out. It makes it a lot easier to see the tornado if there aren’t bubbles blocking your view. You also might have to let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute to settle if its very very bubbly.

My children enjoy adding some debris into the jar, to swirl around. We added dark coloured glitter, but it swirls very quickly so you need quite a bit! Small beads also work very well. We added about 15 small beads and it was lots of fun to watch them get sucked up into the vortex!

Enjoy! If you enjoyed this activity you might also enjoy our other weather activities: making a rain gauge, making a wind sock, making it rain in a jar, making a cloud in a jar and cloud dough.

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