Tornado in a Jar


In our eTwinning Project Adventures of Atmosphere, our aim is to make meteorological observations using the basic methods used by meteorology, data collection, evaluation, analysis and synthesis. Pupils get to know atmospheric events and precipitation types, evaluate and interpret them by absorbing their formation processes and characteristics. They will develop creative and critical thinking skills, learn by trial and error, develop research and invention skills, and increase problem-solving skills based on the STEAM approach, focusing on science, mathematics, engineering and arts.

With this project, project partner teachers will learn to make an interdisciplinary STEM plan in accordance with the curriculum-integrated (gain-oriented) 5E model.

In our lessons, project partners will learn how to plan, design products, and apply STEM plans. With STEM studies, pupils will gain the skills of collaboration, teamwork, inquiry, research, critical thinking, solving daily life problems and analyzing with 21st-century skills.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

We work with 18 teachers and 8 European countries in our project called Adventures of Atmosphere. We aim to help our pupils between 7-11 years with finding solutions to their daily life problems via STEM and using their creativity.


  • gain problem-solving skills
  • make critical analysis
  • acquire teamwork skills and cooperation skills
  • acquire independent thinking
  • be initiative
  • acquire communication skills and think creatively
  • gain digital literacy

In our project, we work with the layers of atmosphere groups on a problem situation by collaborating and planning among blended country team groups among teachers and students. These teams have applied their plans in their classes according to the stages of drawing attention, explanation, exploration, deepening, and evaluation in accordance with the 5E plan work.

Activity: Creating a tornado in a jar

Duration: +40 min.

Date: between 12th -16th of April 2021

Problem situation: Understanding tornadoes and their effects. To examine the effects of nature and human beings.

Abstract: Children like watching vortex in sinks and toilets. Have you ever seen a vortex in the sink? How does it occur? Is it enjoyable or dangerous? By this learning scenario, children will become aware of tornadoes, how they form and how they can be destructive.


SubjectsScience, English, Art, Mathematics, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
Topics within the subjectsScience: Students will do an experiment to understand how a tornado occurs. Technology: Students will do a puzzle about Tornado via the jigsaw planet web 2.0 tool. Art: Students will use their creativity to draw a tornado scene. Maths: Students will measure water’s height to comprehend a tornado’s capacity during a tornado in a jar experiment. In this way, they will have the chance of experiencing measurement of length subject by doing. Engineering: Students will discuss and internalize how engineers make sure that buildings won’t get down during a tornado. English: Students will become more familiar with the vocabulary associated with tornado and its’ process of formation.
Key Words STEAM, Primary, Tornado, Weather, Atmosphere, Updraft, Downdraft
Age of students7-11
Preparation Time3 Hours
Teaching Time4 sessions of 45 minutes each.
Online teaching materialMaking Tornado Puzzle Matching Tornado Cards Use of interactive whiteboard to project a presentation about the Tornado Worksheet.
Offline Teaching materialsExperiment 1: glass jar, water, liquid soap Experiment 2: glass jar, ceramic plate, hot water and ice cubes

Aim of the lesson:

Pupils will observe how a tornado occurs via active learning. They will explore the rotation of tornadoes by simulating a tornado in a jar. In addition, they will understand and learn the vocabulary related to atmosphere events.


Name of the ActivityTornado in a jarTime
Lesson 1: Presentation of the topic  Divide pupils into groups and ask them to share their prior knowledge about tornadoes. After five minutes, pupils share their notes as a whole class. Increase pupils’ interest by showing a few videos of tornadoes, and by asking them: What did you notice about the tornadoes? What is dangerous about tornadoes? Have pupils title their notebooks ‘Tornadoes’ and divide a page into quadrants. Ask them to label each section as follows: ‘Fact 1,’ ‘Fact 2,’ ‘Fact 3,’ and ‘Fact 4. Ask them to find and record four facts during the lesson.5 Min
Group discussion:  Pupils watch the video about the tornado.  In groups, they discuss what happens as a result of the tornado. After watching the video, allow the pupils to watch the video again during the discussion so that they have the opportunity to check and hypothesize about their understanding. In the end, the leaders of each group share the conclusion they reach with the rest of the class. The teacher writes the keywords and phrases on a chart.15 Min    
TORNADO EXPERIMENT WITH JARFill the jar with water. Add one or two drops of liquid soap into the water in the jar. Shake the jar and observe.
(You may have to shake the jar in different ways to find out what works best for you.  We found that holding the jar upright and shaking in a counter-clockwise circular fashion worked best for us.)  Record what you see. What do you think will happen? What do you think will happen if you add some glitter or small bits of tin foil into the jar?  Try them. What Happened: Shaking the jar in a circular fashion creates a vortex inside the jar.  That is what a tornado is.  
45 Min
LESSON 2 PLAYING WITH TORNADOPUZZLE This puzzle has 40 pieces in classic puzzle piece shapes.  However, it can be adapted from 6 to 247 pieces with a variety of types of puzzle pieces. The students will play with the puzzle created by the use of tornado picture.   
Lesson 3 TORNADO PICTURE  The students draw a tornado scene with paint and/or coloured pencils25 mins
LESSON 4 MEASURE AND FIND OUTThe students will do the same experiment 2 more times by increasing the amount of liquid soap. In how many seconds did the tornado occur when the amount of liquid soap was increased? Students will find out the difference by taking note of the rotation time in these experiments. 

Results of the lesson:

The students will identify and explain the different stages of Tornado and their relations. With “a tornado in a jar”, they can see how rotating air patterns can create a tornado, just like their vortex in the jar. After completing this experiment, they will learn how temperature helps to create circular air patterns.

21st-century skills:

Critical thinking: the pupils discover facts for themselves.

Creativity and Collaboration: the pupils learn how to be creative to solve a problem, working constructively together to achieve a common goal.

Communication: the pupils need to discuss and express their thoughts in a way that others can understand.

Curiosity, wonder and questioning: the hands-on activities in this Learning Scenario give pupils a reason to wonder, think critically, ask questions, observe, assess information and work constructively with each other.


With a tornado in a jar, students can see how rotating air patterns can create a tornado, just like their vortex in the jar. After completing this science activity, the students can guess how they think temperature helps create circular air patterns.

Student Feedback

By shaking the bottle in a circular motion it creates a water vortex that looks like a mini-tornado. In conclusion, spiral waves form in the water surface of the vortex. These waves appear to move in slow motion as they travel upward through the downward-flowing water.

With these experiences, we can conclude that spinning water forms a water vortex and the faster the water spins the more realistic it will look.

Author: Enise Ulu Çoğalan- Scientix Ambassador- English Teacher in Soma Nakliyeciler Kooperatifi Primary School in Turkey

16 thoughts on “Tornado in a Jar

  1. They are great activities that draw one’s attention. Congrats👏👏

  2. I’m amazed with these great activities.Congratulations!!!

  3. Great!
    Congratulations for this useful, amazing activity.

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