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Scientist activity for kids at home: how to make a vortex in a bottle

Vortex in a bottle
Vortex in a bottle

Ever heard of a tornado and kept wondering how it works? Lucky you!! as we will be looking at a phenomenon similar to a tornado in this post.

Hi, welcome to Makersgeneration. For newcomers: this is home for cool science experiments for kids at home. Topics covered here range from making cool stuff with cardboard paper to programming microcontrollers and robotics. You love STEM - We have You covered.

For today's project, we will learn how to make a vortex using plastic bottles and water. This can be a great way to learn how tornadoes work.

Keep reading - as we continue to make science fun!!

What is a Vortex

The term "vortex" refers to a phenomenon characterized by swirling or rotating motion in a fluid or gas. Vortices can occur in various scales, from small-scale vortices seen in turbulent flows to large-scale atmospheric phenomena such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

In fluid dynamics, a vortex typically forms when there is a rotational motion around an axis line. The fluid or gas flows in a spiral or circular pattern around this axis, creating a region of rotating motion. Vortices can be found in nature, such as whirlpools in water bodies, or they can be intentionally made in engineering applications, like vortex chambers used for mixing fluids.

Vortex (
Vortex (

Vortices can have different properties and effects depending on their scale and context. For example, small-scale vortices in water or air can contribute to the mixing of substances, while larger vortices like tornadoes or hurricanes can cause significant damage due to their powerful winds and destructive forces.

Project Materials

  • 2 Plastic bottles

  • Tape

  • Water

Required materials
Required materials

Steps to make vortex with plastic bottles

Follow these simple steps below to make a vortex with plastic bottles:

Step 1

Take the two bottle covers and make a hole in the middle with a knife or scissors (adult supervision is required here).

Make holes in the two bottle covers
Make holes in the two bottle covers

Step 2

Place the two bottle covers (back to back) and secure them together with tape.

Tightly secure the two covers with tape
Tightly secure the two covers with tape

Step 3

Fill one of the bottles with water up to about 80% and leave the second one empty.

Fill one bottle with water up to 80%
Fill one bottle with water up to 80%

Step 4

Cover the bottle containing water with one bottle cover with the other cover facing upwards.

Cover the bottle containing water
Cover the bottle containing water

Step 5

Take the other empty bottle, face it upside-down, and screw it into the other bottle cover. (You can add more tape at this point to ensure the two bottles are really secured)

Attach the other empty bottle facing upside down
Attach the other empty bottle facing upside down

Step 6 - Testing

Now, turn the bottle setup such that the bottle filled with water is up and start swirling:

You should see the water make a vortex as it transfers to the empty bottle below.

Video demo

Explore more

You can make this project more fun with the following tips:

  • Bigger bottle = Bigger vortex.

  • You can add color or glitter to the water to make the vortex effect more visible.

  • You can even make this into a game with your friends to see who makes the most perfect vortex.

Vortex VS Tornado

  • A Vortex refers to a spinning motion of fluid or gas, characterized by a circular or spiral pattern of flow. It is a general term used to describe rotational motion in various contexts. On the other hand, a Tornado refers explicitly to a violent and destructive column of air that extends from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground.

  • Vortices can occur at different scales and intensities. They can range from small, relatively benign vortices like whirlpools or dust devils to large-scale phenomena like hurricanes or cyclones. In contrast, tornadoes are typically intense and powerful, characterized by rapidly rotating winds that can reach extremely high speeds.

Tornado (Wikipedia)
Tornado (Wikipedia)

  • While vortices can have varying degrees of impact, tornadoes are known for their destructive nature. Tornadoes can cause significant damage to structures, uproot trees, and have the potential to injure or cause loss of life due to their powerful winds and flying debris.

Online after-school and summer camps in Takoma Park Maryland

You and your children are looking for nice fun activities and learning new things and skills. Come join us starting in May and this summer for more online classes such as:

  • Python coding for kids and teens

  • Coding for elementary school students

  • Make video games

  • Electronics

  • Digital modeling (Create cars, rockets, rings, etc) for 3D printing

  • and much more

  • with the following link: Online after-schools

And the STEM summer camp for your kids is organized in Takoma Park Maryland nearby Washington DC to have fun and learn more about robotics, coding, droning, and more. Check the link right here:

Other cute things to make and hand-crafts for kids

If you are looking for more ideas for kids' science experiments to do at home, take a look at these other activities:

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