Science Experiment: Volcanoes For Kids

Volcano Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Make a volcano for a Science Party or a Hawaiian Luau Party out of old newspaper, card board, and paper mache.  Once it is dry, paint and decorate with embellishments, toys and miniature trees.  During the Science Party, gather all the kids around, fill with baking soda and pour in vinegar mixture.  Then sit back and watch the volcano erupt!

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Science Experiment: Volcano Supplies

This is a great project to use up recyclable materials like newspaper, old small plastic milk bottles, and cereal boxes.  Volcano Kits are also readily available.

For the volcano:

  • 1 empty milk bottle
  • Old newspaper
  • Cardboard from empty cereal box
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Any paint in colors brown, dark green or light green
  • Tape
  • Optional: LEGO figurines, toys, dinosaurs, trees, etc.

For the chemical reaction:

  • 2 tbs. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Five drops each, red and yellow food coloring
  • 1 tsp. liquid dish soap

Tip:

Make sure you have extra supplies on hand as I can guarantee that kids would want to see this one over and over again.

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Science Experiment: Volcano Directions

Step 1. Unfold cereal box and use it as a base for the volcano.  Use any sturdy recyclable material as needed.

Step 2. Take the small milk bottle and place in the center of the cereal box.  Crumple up a small piece of newspaper and make a base for the volcano around the bottle.  Use tape to tape down the paper. Continue folding and adding newspaper to the sides all around the bottle until you have a general shape of a mountain.  Do not tape the paper to the bottle if at all possible.  Try taping the newspaper to the cardboard bottom instead.  The idea is that during the experiment we will be able to take out the bottle, rinse and repeat.

 

 

Volcano Science Experiment - Tape newspaper onto milk bottle.
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Step 3. Get a bowl and mix in 2 parts water and 1 part flour to make the paper mache paste.  Dip in strips of newspaper and place over the volcano.  Continue doing so until the entire volcano is covered with the strips.  Let dry.

Nature has many bumps, hills and valleys.  Let kids get creative by making their own little mountain and name it after themselves.  For example, Mt. John, Mt. Nicole, Mt. Ryan, etc.

Volcano Science Experiment - Add strips of newspaper dipped into paper mache
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Step 4. Once the first layer is dry, you can add another layer of paper mache strips.  Let dry completely.

Volcano Science Experiment - paint the volcano and decorate
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Step 5. Once the second layer has completely dried, you can use paint to paint the volcano.  Use brown, dark green and light green colors.  Layer dark first and then lighter colors on top.  Embellish with different toys and greenery.  My son (13) had a field day making “traps” with LEGO blocks, ribbon, and leftover Christmas branches.  His idea is that once the volcano erupts, it will trigger a tumbeling domino effect. He had a few small balls teetering on ledges and LEGOs as well. Make little flags out of toothpick and paper so that when the volcano is finished, kids can glue it close to the top and see if the flags gets toppled by the eruption.

Volcano Science Experiment - Finished

 

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Step 6. Take the volcano outside or if you will be doing the experiment indoors, place in a large, flat tray. Place 2 tablespoon baking soda in the bottom of the milk bottle. Put about 1/2 cup of vinegar in a cup, squeeze a few drops of red and yellow food coloring in, and a few drops of liquid dish soap.  Mix liquid to color the vinegar. The dish soap will slow down the eruption, and will make the volcano foam. When ready, pour the vinegar liquid into the volcano opening all at once, and watch it erupt!

What just happened?

When the vinegar (Acetic acid) and the baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) mixed together, a chemical reaction took place.  First, a substance called Carbonic acid is made, but this is only a one quick step.  The second reaction that happened right after, is that the Carbonic acid falls apart and becomes water and carbon dioxide (bubbles).  The bubbles you see coming out of the volcano is the Carbon dioxide escaping from the solution.  After a while when all the Carbon dioxide has escaped into the air, the solution becomes flat and the experiment and wow factor is over.  What is left in the bottle is a diluted solution of water, soap and sodium acetate.  Sodium acetate is a salt is often used for pickling.

Take this further:

  • Experiment with the ratios of baking soda, vinegar and liquid dish soap to see which proportion produces a quicker or bigger reaction.
  • Experiment with temperature to see if that has any effects.
  • Experiment with placing substances into the liquid to see if that will allow the volcano erupt.  Substances could be flour, cornmeal, sand, soda, crackling candy, baking powder, hydrogen peroxide, salt, etc.

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