Diocese of Orange
This Page URL
UCI Summer Science Institute WebQuests
Science WebQuests from all years
WELCOME, STORM CHASERS!
You are about to enter the turbulent world of tornadoes.
You will be asked:
(1) to investigate what causes a tornado to occur
(2) to discover how fast a "fast" tornado is
(3) what to do "before or when" one is headed your way.
THE BIRTH OF A TORNADO
A thunderstorm is usually where a tornado is born. The storm begins
as warm, humid air rises upward from the
ground creating updrafts. These updrafts cool in the upper atmosphere.
As they cool, the moisture in them forms clouds. The water droplets
in the clouds grow larger as water vapor around them liquifies or condenses.
When these water droplets then begin to fall, downdrafts are created.
The downdrafts collide with the newly
formed updrafts, which continue feeding warm humid air into a spreading
It is during this most violent time in the thunderstorm that a tornado
may form at the edge of the updraft, where
it meets the downdraft. The updraft pulls air away from the ground,
which creates an area of low pressure.
More air rushes in to take the place of air that's been pulled up.
Then the falling water droplets in the
downdraft get swept in and begin to form the tornado's funnel shaped
As the swirling winds pick up dirt and materials from the ground, the
funnel grows darker.
A Quick Illustrated
Explantion of What Causes a Tornado.
ACTIVITY #1-Tornado In A Bottle
Students will demonstrate and understand the principals of a vortex,
observe and simulate a tornado and understand the weather phenomena of
how a tornado originates.
Click on "Create
Tornado!" to find the materials you will need and the procedures to
(1) Complete the experiments. "Create
(1) Describe what you saw and define the term vortex.
(2) Time how long it will take for the water to drain from the
(3) Try flipping the bottles without swirling the top bottle
and repeat step 2.
(4) Record all data
(5) Complete the accompaning "Create
a Tornado worksheet"
ACTIVITY #2-Tornado Air Movement
Discover how air moves inside a tornado using Glitter.
Click here on proceed "Create
Tornado!" with this activity using glitter.
Anwser the quuestions below.
(1) Determine which moved faster, the glitter near the center
of the vortex or
near the bottle's wall.
(2) Flip the bottles, again without swirling the top bottle,
and note what the
glitter does this time.
(3) Record all data.
Thanks to the Educators
Cheap Book for these two acivities.
© Copyright 2001 Boston Museum of Science
Try Dorothy's recipe for a Twister
in a bottle.
Answer the questions on Why
Files Twister Page.
Follow the hyper links to answer the questions.
Exploratorium - Vortex
in a bottle.
Check out other interesting weather
phenomena and topics from about.com
***** Now view a quicktime movie
clip to see the real thing! *****
For a 972 Kb Quicktime Tornado Movie
Click here to
download a Quicktime Player for PC or Mac
When a tornado touches down, it creates an explosion of dust and wreckage
on the ground. One monster tornado that touched down in Illinois
in 1990, picked up a 20-ton truck and deposited it in a field over eleven
hundred feet away. Strong tornadoes can easily pick up houses and
move them hundreds of feet from their original locations. Tornadoes
have been known to pick up turtles and frogs from ponds and drop them coated
with ice like hailstones
in neighboring towns. Powerful tornadoes can uproot trees
and break their trunks in half. They also have the
capability of hurling debris with such force that the materials can
Follow this link to see How
tornadoes are rated.
The Fujita-Pearson Tornado Intensity Scale ranks tornadoes according
to their wind speed and the kind of damage they can cause. So grab
a calculator, a pencil, and sheet of paper and visit DISASTER
DISCOVERY TASK: Check your
monstrous "math speed" and accuracy and see how much damage you can
do on these problems.
Now view an actual tornado's
path of destruction that touched down in Hamilton County, Ohio.
DISCOVERY TASK: Predict what rating
the scientists would have given it and explain you answer choice
using the Fuijita Scale.
Learning about tornadoes can help to save lives. One can also
prevent injury by being alert to the onset of severe weather. Learn
the signs of approaching bad weather, and know where to tune in for weather
forecasts on the radio or TV. If a tornado watch is issued for your
area, it means a tornado is possible, because one has already been spotted
either on the ground or on radar. It is also good to know, before
a tornado strikes, where to go for shelter. Having a "tornado ready
kit" is also a wise thing to have on hand.
Follow this link to learn more about tornado
DISCOVERY TASK: Have some fun and
Match Up." Keep a tally of the number of tries it takes
for you to clear the board. Test your skills against a classmate
and learn to stay tornado safe!
COME AGAIN, STORM CHASERS!