To demonstrate volcanic activity by making our very own working homemade volcano.
When people think of volcanoes, the first thing that comes to mind is a conical mountain that spews molten lava and poisonous gases from the crater at it's summit. Although this is correct, it describes just one of many types of volcanoes that exist on earth. Some volcanoes are formed by lava domes, sporting rugged peaks while others take the form of massive plateaus. Vents, which give off gas and spew lava, are not always found at the peak of the volcano. They can be located anywhere on the landform! Just a few of the many types of volcanoes include lava domes, cinder cones, shield volcanoes, submarine volcanoes, mud volcanoes, and subglacial volcanoes.
- Play dough (any color, but red or brown are always good ones)
- Empty film canister
- Tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- Tablespoon of vinegar
Estimated Experiment Time
About 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how detailed you want your volcano to be).
- 1. Sculpt your play dough until it's in the shape of a volcano.
- 2. Make a hole in the top of your volcano, large enough to fit the empty film canister into.
- 3. Insert the empty film canister into the hole. If you wish, you can adjust your play dough around the canister so that the opening resembles that of a real volcano. Just be careful not to cover the canister opening.
- 4. Now it's time to make some molten lava that will spew forth from the volcano!
- 5. Add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to the empty canister. Next, add a tablespoon of vinegar to the canister. Stand back and watch your volcano come to life!
You can adjust the levels of baking soda and vinegar to control the reaction to make it fiercer or less fierce, depending on what you prefer. Make sure you conduct this experiment in a place where you don't mind making a mess (like outdoors)!
Think of creative ways to enhance your volcano. For example, what if you used food dye with the vinegar? Could you make red molten lava? Also, think of creative ways to "dress-up" your volcano. You can simulate an environment of plants and shrubbery (play dough style) that will be consumed by your flowing lava. You can also form volcanoes that are not the typical perceived volcanoes, making it unique. Be creative and have fun!
Volcanoes erupt every day on Earth. The Stomboli volcano near southern Italy is erupting this very minute, as are less famous, continually active volcanoes in Ethiopia, Indonesia, and elsewhere. The next big eruption will be... well, know one quits knows! That's the danger thousands life with when making habitats within areas of high volcanic activity.
Take a moment to visit our table of Periodic Elements page where you can get an in-depth view of all the elements,
complete with the industry first side-by-side element comparisons!