Have you ever played with Tornado Tubes (affiliate link)? I ordered one for our family because I had fond memories of exploring them as a kid! We tried making our own with duct tape first, but had trouble with it leaking. Tornado tubes are super simple to use: screw one end onto an empty soda bottle (be sure to remove the plastic ring first for a good fit), fill that container roughly 1/3-1/2 full of water, then screw a second soda bottle (ring also removed) on top. We added some purple glitter to ours to make the vortex easier to see (and because glitter is pretty).
This is such a fun way for kids to learn about the force created by a vortex – the same force that makes a tornado leave so much destruction in its wake. The water will eventually move into a vortex (tornado) shape, but you can speed up the process by swirling the water around.
If you don’t swirl the bottle, the water will go through slowly at the beginning, because a little water will go through, then some air will come up from the lower bottle, then a little more water will go through. Once the vortex has been created, the air can move up through a neat little hold in the middle, so it can move smoothly up into the upper bottle as the water flows down!
I love simple visual science experiments like this one – so kid-friendly! Here are a few other kid-friendly experiments that we enjoy:
- Inflate a balloon using baking soda and vinegar
- Make pasta dance in soda water
- Look for nature’s camouflage
- Experiment with candy
Did you play with tornado tubes as a kid? Have you ever made the duct tape version without it leaking water? Have you done this experiment with your own kids? Is there a science experiment from your childhood that you think the kids and I should explore?