Tornado in a Glass

Tornados can be devastating.

It can destroy large buildings, rip roofs off of houses, uproot trees, drive sticks into trees and hurl cars hundreds of yards away.

They can even pick you up and literally drop you somewhere else.

A tornado, also called twister or cyclone, is a violent rotating column of air extending between the Earth’s surface and the base of a thunderstorm.

This vortex of wind, usually funnel-shaped, can be very destructive.

In this experiment, we will make a water tornado safely at our own home and study it’s motion.

It’s a simple experiment that only requires a few things you can easily find in the kitchen.

The kids will love this homemade tornado in a glass.

Let’s see how a rotating vortex is formed.

Water tornado in a glass

Making Tornado In A Glass

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

In this experiment, we will make a water tornado safely at our own home. Let's see how a rotating vortex is formed.


  • water
  • liquid dish soap
  • chunky glitter (optional)


  • a tall glass or jar (lid is good but optional)
  • a stirrer (if there is no lid, you can use pencil, chopstick, straw or an actual stirrer to stir)
  • adult supervision


  1. Fill the glass with three quarters of water.
  2. Put a few drops of dish soap into the water.
  3. With one hand holding the glass, use the other hand to stir the water quickly in circular motion until a vortex or column of spinning bubbles is formed.
  4. If you prefer to use a lid, cover the jar tightly and rotate the jar in circles using your wrist.
  5. Then remove the stirrer, or put down the jar, and observe.
    Glass with tornado shaped water inside and sparkle glitters at the bottom
  6. Add chunky glitter to see how the water current moves inside the glass (optional).


When you stir or spin the water, a vortex is created in the center, similar to the vortex in tornadoes. 

In a vortex, the water swirling on the outside has to move faster than the water on the inside to keep up.

This is why in a hurricane, strong winds are felt far away from the center but the center itself (eye) is calm.

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