Science with Samantha

Science With Samantha: September 16

Making a tornado in a jar

NBCUniversal, Inc.

NBC 5 meteorologist Samantha Davies shows us how to make a tornado in a jar.

Materials needed:

A jar with a lid

Dish soap



Measuring spoons

Optional: glitter or food coloring


Fill a jar with cold water until there is about 1-2” left at the top.

(Optional, add a drop of food coloring or glitter)

Add 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. 

Put the top on tight. Shake to mix.

Once all ingredients are combined swirl the jar around and around several times. 

Then stop and watch the tornado form before your eyes!

Let’s Learn!

What is a Tornado: A tornado is a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of up to 300 mph. 

How do they form:  Most tornadoes form from thunderstorms. You need warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool, dry air from Canada. When these two air masses meet, they create instability in the atmosphere. A change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect. Rising air within the updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical.

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