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::: the tornado/vortex tube


We were sorting through our equipment the other day, cleaning up and packing away after a water workshop we held the day before at a conference run by the “Yarra Ranges Early Childhood Educators Network”.  At the same time we had two of Sherry’s grandchildren come over for a play. They loved helping and were very curious to know what everything was used for …

especially the glitter!

As we all know, children love to learn through science, so we explained to them about the tornado/vortex tube our participants had made at the water workshop and naturally they asked if we could show them how to make one too.

A tornado tube is where two bottles filled with water are joined at the neck with a connector. They demonstrate the whirlwind effect created when tornadoes spin, as well as showing how whirlpools can occur in water.

Most children can recognise a similar effect when the water rushes down the plug hole as they let the water out of their baths.

Today however the children had to make them without the use of the actual connectors, as we didnt have any.

They filled up one bottle with water …

added glitter (because apparently everything looks better with glitter!)

then they taped another bottle on top of the first one – very tightly!

Electrical tape is ideal for this as you can really stretch it for a great seal.

Alternatively you could superglue the topsides of two screw top lids together and drill a large hole through the middle for the water to pass through.

Next you spin the water around in a circular motion, tip the bottles upside down and watch how it makes a tornado/vortex! It may not work as effectively as a commercially bought ‘tornado tube connector’ does, but for an impromptu activity, it works really well.

Afterwards we showed the children how you could create a whirlpool with just one bottle. You spin it in the same way, only you need to keep your hand over the opening until you’re ready to release the water.

You’ll need a sink or a large tub to catch the water for this one, and the tornado is awesome!

In this Steve Spangler Youtube video you can see great examples of the water tornado, along with one made using dishwashing liquid which shows the transference of air and water brilliantly, as well as a terrific effect with lamp oil. Isn’t science amazing how it occurs in our everyday life?


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3 Responses to “the tornado/vortex tube”

  1. avatar Bianca says:

    Ladies… you are getting me hooked on science :) I’d always been so scared of it but it fits in perfectly with a play based curriculum. Thank you. :) :)

    ::: SO many people feel the same way Bianca … scared … BUT it is so NOT rocket science and SO MUCH FUN! :) :)

  2. avatar Shannon says:

    I used to have the little plastic attachment thing when I was a kid. However, I never thought to add glitter. I think I’ll have to dig around to see if I still have it. :)

    ::: If you have one, a connector certainly is an advantage Shannon. Good luck finding it as they aren’t so easy to buy these days. :) :)


  3. [...] Tornado Tubes from Irresistible Ideas For Playbased Learning [...]

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