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Science Project Idea: Amazing Natural Disasters :: Tornadoes

Wanna do a REALLY COOL science fair project this year? Look no further than Mother Nature herself - she's been known to have some pretty bad days! This Amazing Natural Disaster project includes facts and info about tornadoes (plus the science behind them), an experiment you can do yourself and helpful suggestions for other things to research, make, draw, create and include in your project!

Tornadoes: Portrait Of A Monster

Not all tornadoes are created equal. Scientists use something called the Fujita Scale to rate tornadoes from F-1 to F-5, based on the damage they do. 90% of tornadoes are in the F-1 to F-3 category. An F-5 tornado is an official monster and an extremely rare beast. Only when conditions are perfect does an F-5 develop. But when it happens, the result is like a combination freight train and bomb - in other words: the perfect storm.

Homemade Tornado Machine

Follow these steps to build a machine that’ll launch tiny twisters across a room:

  1. Get a cardboard tube, like an empty oatmeal container. Cut a small, circular hole in the bottom, dead center, about 1 inch across.
  2. Cover the open end of the tube with a thin sheet of rubber (try an old balloon). Secure it tightly in place with a rubber band. It should be tight as a drum.
  3. Point the tube across the room. Snap the rubber bottom by pulling and releasing it. A tiny twister made of air will come out the other end!

Other Things To Include

You didn’t think we’d do all of the work for ya, did you? You’ll definitely have to do some legwork to make this science fair project complete. Here are some suggestions for what else you can do:

  • Research some of the most notorious F-5 Tornadoes in history, including the Flint, Michigan tornado of 1953; the Waco, Texas tornado of 1953; the Super Outbreak of 1974; and the Colonial Heights, Virgina tornado of 1993.
  • Write a bio about Dr. T. Theodore Fujita, who created the Fujita Scale.
  • Draw a chart, graph or animated illustration showing the different kinds of damage done by F-1, F-2, F-3, F-4 and F-5 category tornadoes.
  • Interview someone who actually survived a real tornado.
  • Show before and after pictures of tornadoes and the destruction they leave behind.
  • Create a Glossary of the following tornado-related words and phrases: Tornado Alley; dust devils; waterspouts; Tornado Town, U.S.A.

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