Science is not only an important subject for kids to learn but it can also be extremely fun for the family to learn together – especially when you’re working with experiments of an explosive nature… One of the simplest science experiments that kids love to do is the volcano science experiment. Here’s how you can do it at home…
Volcanoes: Fun Facts for Kids
But first, let’s learn a little bit about volcanoes…
- There are about 1,900 active volcanoes on the earth – this means they have erupted recently or they might erupt.
- Some volcanoes are extinct.
- Over 80 volcanoes have been found in the ocean.
- Most volcanoes happen on fault lines, or cracks in the Earth’s surface.
- Most of the earth’s volcanoes are in the Pacific Ocean, in an area called the Ring of Fire.
- The word “volcano” comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
- Lava from volcanoes can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Volcanoes spew out ash and toxic gases, as well as lava and lava boulders.
Learn more about volcanoes in this video from SciShow:
Science Experiment: Make Your Own Volcano
Making a volcano is a fun and easy science experiment you can do at home with explosive results (pun intended).
In the video above, the kids are using a volcano kit from The Magic School Bus Science Club (which you can also get from here if you live outside US/Canada).
However, you can also make your own volcano from materials easily found at home. Here’s what you’ll need:
- six drops of dish washing detergent
- an empty, plastic bottle (500ml)
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- red/orange/yellow food colouring
- a funnel
- fill your bottle with water (7/8 full) and add food colouring
- add dish washing detergent
- add baking soda (using the funnel so you don’t spill)
- lastly, add the vinegar to the bottle and watch your volcano erupt
If you want the full volcano effect, you can make a dough to pack around your plastic bottle so it looks more like a volcano. Here’s the recipe:
- 6 cups flour
- 2 cups salt
- 4 tbsp oil
- 2 cups water
Mix everything together and knead it into a workable consistency. Pack the dough around your plastic bottle, shape it to look like a volcano, and you’re good to go…
What’s Happening in this Experiment?
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a base and vinegar is a dilute form of acetic acid. So what you have is essentially an acid/base reaction with carbon dioxide gas as one of the end products. The carbon dioxide escapes the solution as bubbles, and the bubbles, being heavier than air, collects at the surface of the container and causes it to overflow. The addition of dish washing detergent is to collect the gas and form bubbles that flow in an manner similar to lava running down the side of a volcano.
- What Is the Equation for the Reaction Between Baking Soda and Vinegar?
- Steve Spangler: Acid-Base Reaction