Make Your Own Volcano !
This is a very messy project—especially
at the end when the volcano erupts. Wear old clothes and work on a pile of newspapers (or even better, outdoors).
In a real volcano, molten rock from
deep within the Earth erupts through a volcano (the molten rock is called magma when it is within the Earth and is called
lava when it comes out of a volcano). In this
project, a mock volcano will erupt with a bubbly, fizzy liquid that is created by a simple chemical reaction.
This project shows what happens
when an acid (vinegar) and a base (baking soda) interact. Chemically, the acid and base neutralize each other, producing carbon
dioxide gas as a byproduct. The exact reaction is:
(vinegar = acetic acid) + NaHCO3 (baking soda = sodium bicarbonate) = CO2 (carbon dioxide gas) + NaC2H3O2(sodium
acetate) + H2O (water)
(parental supervision is advised)
Begin by gathering all your ingredients;
you should have everything you need around the house.
What you'll need:
- Aluminum cookie
- Cardboard box
- Lots of old
- Baking soda
(about 3-4 tablespoons)
- Vinegar (about
- A few drops
of liquid dishwashing detergent
Small plastic bottle
- Modeling clay
- Measuring spoon
and measuring cup
- Red food coloring
- Glitter (optional)
Recipe for Modeling Clay and Eruption
Choose a spot to build your volcano
that is okay to occupy
for a couple of days because the volcano will need time to dry. You should also choose a spot that is easy to clean up—this
project is messy! Your backyard would be an ideal location, if the weather is good.
Spread newspapers over your work
Use a large piece of cardboard as
a platform for your volcano. A large tray or cookie sheet with sides all the way around will help contain your volcanic eruption.
Cut the cardboard to fit inside the tray.
to find a small beverage bottle, so that you can use less clay to model your volcano. A 16-oz soda bottle will require about
three batches of clay. This can get quite heavy if you want to move the volcano. Some people use papier mache' for part of
the volcano to make it lighter. However, if you want to keep the volcano and use it again, modeling clay is best.
the neck off the bottle at a slight angle. This creates a wider opening for the lava flow, and the angle makes the volcano
opening look more realistic. Glue the bottle to the center of the cardboard base. Let it dry for about an hour.
You may then add
all of the ingredients for the first eruption except the baking soda to the bottle (vinegar, dish soap, and red dye).
While you wait, mix your clay. Begin
by mixing the flour and salt. Then add the water and mix with your hands until you have a clay-like consistency. It must be
moist enough to hold together, but as dry as possible, so it doesn’t take too long to cure.
Start building your volcano from
the bottom, molding
the clay around the base and working toward the top. Remember, you need a wide bottom and a narrow top. When you run out of
clay, let the volcano dry for awhile before mixing another batch. Sometimes if the volcano dries on the outside and the inside
is still moist, the inside will expand, creating surface cracks and fissures. This is okay because that is what happens in
real volcanoes. But if the interior is too moist, the weight will cause the whole thing to break away from the bottle. Volcanoes
look like mountains, so lumps and bumps are good. You can also sculpt erosion gullies and lava channels after the volcano
has dried for awhile.
Let the volcano
completely dry before you paint it. Use a base color like brown to paint the entire volcano and the base. Then paint green
trees, white for snow at the top,
etc. Or you can use entirely different colors–whatever your imagination dictates. If you want texture, you can sprinkle
fine sand on the wet paint. You can use small twigs and grass for trees, but remember, you are building a mountain, so individual
trees would be difficult to see from your perspective.
When the paint dries, you will be
ready for the eruption. Place your baking soda in a small square of tissue. Gather the edges and twist them together. Drop
the baking soda into the volcano, wait several seconds, and you will begin to see your eruption.
Your volcano should be very durable,
so you can keep it and erupt it many times if you like. Just remember that the eruption is messy and plan accordingly.