Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making a Volcano

Billions and billions of years ago... no, not really.  Probably about 4500 years ago (give or take a few hundred years), around the time of the great flood, this county went up in smoke.  Volcanoes erupted and spewed ash and lava all over the desert.  We can see several of the old craters on our way to my parents' place, along with the black rock that is left over from way back then.  What an educational place we live in!

We decided to make our own volcano.  Normally I run from hands-on educational opportunities, but this was okay.  It turned out about like all of our other hands-on science projects, so the making of it was a lot more fun than the actual explosion.

First, make salt-based playdough.  Knead til smooth.

Cut a circle in the top of a small box, big enough to hold a 16 or 20-oz water bottle.  Fill the water bottle half full with water. (Or half empty, depending on your mood.) Tape the box down to keep it stable.  We covered a board with a trash bag, to make the whole assembly portable and gunk-proof.

Make a mound of newspaper around the bottle in a mountain shape, and tape it down.

Now take your playdough blob, pat it out to about 1/2" thickness, and mold it around your newspaper mountain, leaving the top of the bottle open.

Be sure to landscape your volcano and plant some vegetation on it.

Some people go all out and paint their volcano realistic colors, but vegetation was all the realism that we had patience for this day.

Next, using a funnel, pour about 1/4 cup of baking soda into the water bottle.

Add a few drops of red food coloring, if you like, and taking careful aim, pour in white vinegar.  KABOOM! (Or maybe, fizzzzz.) Pretend you are in Pompeii or at Mount St. Helen's , or in the Mohave Desert, and take cover!


  1. This looks like so much fun. Aubrey did her history fair project on Mount St. Helens last year and we've got to do this!

    Thanks for posting this :-)!


  2. Adding the red coloring allows us to follow the flow. Always an interesting project and so much fun to do. Golly, it's been decades since I was involved with one. Thanks for the photos.

  3. Oh, Sally, how neat. We've done the volcano before, but it was nowhere near as elaborately decorated. Yours was almost too pretty to blow up! I know you had fun with this one, and I can see the smile on the girls' faces. Isn't it great sometimes when homeschooling just seems to "click," so to speak?

    Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Fun! I love the plantlife!

  6. Very fun. We did a volcano a couple of years ago and I agree, the making is more fun, the actual erupting was a bit anticlimatic. Nice touch with the landscaping, we just painted ours. We kept our volcano for a long while thinking we might do it again, but never did. I think (hope) we threw it out - the dust collector that it was. That sould do it for science experiments for the year, right?

  7. That is a great volcano! ( We cheated and bought a kit when we did it...but yours turned out WAY better!)

  8. What a BEAUTIFUL volcano! :-) That is really neat. And I enjoyed the little history lesson on your part of the world. We live in the Alaskan bush. About a year ago Mt. Redoubt erupted and send an ash cloud over us. So, like you, we used the opportunity to take a break from Astronomy and do a little fun, hands-on Earth Science. We built a volcano, the boys made pictures using ash they gathered, and a few other things. Isn't it a blessing to be able to use what God provides for education?

    God bless,



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