The Vortex Fountain can be a useful visual and inspiration for lots of classroom activities. From science to literature, vortices are fantastic learning tools! Here are some ideas for your classroom!

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Earth Science & Weather

Tabletop Vortex Fountain

  • Discuss similarities and differences between several types of natural vortices and cyclonic storms.
    • Funnel Clouds
    • Dust Devils
    • Eddys
    • Waterspouts
    • Tornadoes
    • Low-pressure centers v. High-pressure centers
    • Hurricanes
    • How and why do they differ in the northern and southern hemispheres?
  • Discuss the formation of thunderstorms, lightning, and tornadoes.
  • Discuss the formation of hurricanes and how tornadoes are spawned by hurricanes.
  • Discuss best practices for tornado safety.
  • Research the history of your state or area’s tornadoes. Where were the largest tornadoes? How often do they happen in your area?
  • Discuss the concepts of density and rising air. How might they lead to the formation of a dust devil? Discuss the dust devils discovered by the NASA rover on Mars.

Math & Physics

  • Calculate the volume of the cylinder and the reservoir.
  • Calculate the rate and volume of water flowing through the center hole.
  • Calculate the area of the fountain’s surfaces (top of the cylinder, sides of the reservoir, etc.).
  • Calculate the force of the water spinning in the cylinder.
  • Discuss vectors and forces and how they interact in the Vortex Fountain.
  • Whille researching the frequency of tornadoes in your area, calculate the average number of times tornadoes happen each month, each year, each decade. Calculate the probability of a tornado on any given day in your area.

Language, Writing & Literature

Dino Vortex

Creative writing: write a fictional short story featuring anthropomorphic dinosaur characters and their reactions to weather phenomena like tornadoes, hail, lightning, and thunderstorms.

  • Write an essay about…
    • tornado safety;
    • what it would be like (or it was like) to see or encounter your first tornado;
    • the meteorological errors (“artistic liberties”) in movies such as “Twister,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” or anything in the “Sharknado” franchise.
  • Write a poem, haiku, or (G-rated) limerick featuring a vortex.
  • Write a fictional short story about…
    • a family enduring a tornadic storm (man v. nature);
    • a boat encountering a vortex, eddy (man v. nature), or the Charybdis (man v. supernatural);
    • a battle between a superhero and a super-villain who has weaponized a vortex (man v. man).
    • living through a hurricane or tornado outbreak and the internal struggles with simultaneous terror, fascination, and adrenaline rush (man v. himself);
    • the apocalyptic aftermath of a hurricane or tornadic storm and how the protagonist copes with the struggles of a recovering community (man v. society).
  • Learn about the mythology of the Charybdis.
  • Learn how to use a thesaurus: what are some other words for “vortex?”

Geography & Cartography

  • Find Columbus, Ohio, (the home of the Quox Creek Vortex Fountain) on a map and calculate the distance from your school. How far away is it? How long would it take to drive there at highway speed? How many states would you travel through on the way there?
  • Outline the US’s “traditional” tornado alley on a map. Where are the other, smaller tornado allies in the US? Is your area included in one of them?