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Natural Disasters

Before we did the elements groups, each student did an independent study of a natural disaster of their choice. The air affects many natural disasters. Of course, there are the natural disasters that are quite obviously related to air, like hurricanes and tornados, but air-related disasters go much deeper than simply twirling pillars of wind.

For instance, during the independent disaster study, one student discovered that air can blow clouds off course, bring more rain than needed in one part of the world and bring drought in another part. The study of these natural disasters came in quite handy for the air group, since many people had studied hurricanes and tornadoes. We composed several experiments related to hurricanes and tornados.

We created an underwater tornado with two bottles and water dyed pink. We filled one of the bottles with the pink water, then super glued the two bottles together at the mouth. We also added a layer of duct tape. To create a tornado, you had to flip over the bottle so that the water is rushing into the other bottle to follow gravity. You swirl the water around as fast as you can. If all goes well, the water should swirl around the edges, leaving a gap of air in the middle. You can tell that the pillar of air is there because air bubbles will stop bubbling to the top.

The other experiment was sort of "a tornado crossed with a hurricane" experiment. We brought dry ice into class and used a plastic container to hold some warm tap water. When we dropped the ice into the water it turned into a sort of billowy gas that looked like fog. When we set a miniature fan directly over it on a makeshift plastic stand and turned it on, the fan sucked up a quite a bit of the fog and made the rest of it swirl around, creating a sort of miniature hurricane with the extra fog and a tornado with the sucked up fog.


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