Idea for Use in the Classroom

Destructive tornadoes usually come from supercell thunderstorms. These storms often arise in areas where cold, dry air from the poles meets warm, humid air from the tropics. Using the Inside a Tornado infographic, have students write a story about how air particles interact to form a tornado.

Life of an Air Particle

After reading the infographic, have students write a story from the perspective of a particle of air. Have students start their stories before the storm and describe how the air moves and interacts during the formation of a tornado.

Questions students should consider before writing their story:

  • What is the weather like before the supercell?
  • What happens during the supercell thunderstorm?
  • What kinds of paths do the air particles follow?
  • What happens to other particles in the air? For example, do some water molecules freeze and turn into hail?

Tornado Categories

Have students use the Tornado Categories chart on the infographic to decide what category of tornado they fit into.

Questions the students should consider to determine Enhanced Fujita Scale:

  • What category is their particular tornado?
  • As an air particle, how do they affect trees, houses, and cars?


Fujita scale

scale that measures the intensity of tornadoes, from F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest).


small piece of material.


thunderstorm with a strong, rotating updraft (mesocyclone) in the middle.


a violently rotating column of air that forms at the bottom of a cloud and touches the ground.