How to Make a Volcano for a Science Project

The erupting volcano can be an extremely fun science project for the young student (and their parents). I can remember making “volcanoes” in the kitchen as a child with erupting ingredients and it was always a fascinating process. The construction and demonstration of a volcano does not have to be a complicated process, but it does take a bit of work to get done. Here are a few tips on how to make a volcano for a school science project.

THE VOLCANO ITSELF

Construction of the volcano can be done through a variety of methodologies. Some people make a volcano out of paper mache. This process usually starts with a wire mesh frame, the materials of which can be found at a local hardware store. Then, strips of paper (usually newspaper) that have been soaked in plaster solution are laid over the structure and allowed to dry. For greater expertise on this process, look beyond this article. After it dries, it can be painted to emulate a volcano. Colors might include gray, brown, green, and perhaps red to “simulate” lava. A volcano can also be built out of modeling clay or “play dough”. In order to minimize cost, it may be best to go online and get a recipe for homemade clay since a large quantity of modeling clay may be cost prohibitive. When constructing the volcano, a cylinder or container should be inserted in the middle to simulate the “mouth” of the volcano. Typically, a small plastic cup will suffice.

READY FOR ERUPTION

One of the most common ways of creating an eruption with household products is to use vinegar and baking soda. When dry baking soda is poured into vinegar, it tends to quickly bubble up and over the top of the container. This is why a cylinder or container should be placed in the middle of the volcano. When the experiment is ready to be performed, the container should be filled about half-full of vinegar. Some red food coloring can be added to more accurately simulate lava. Then, a quantity of baking powder should be added, which will cause the “eruption”. People should practice different quantities ahead of time in order to gauge the effect of the particular amounts. This is important because when the ingredients are mixed, they “erupt” very quickly.

Overall, this can be a very effective experiment and fairly easy to create. Also, it can be very fun for the child, particularly when the volcano “erupts” and spills lava down the mountain.