Science Summer: Backyard Eruptions

It’s Volcano Day!

As I’ve mentioned before, Susannah is a little bit obsessed with volcanoes right now. For weeks I’ve been thinking that we ought to make a baking soda volcano for her, and today we finally did it.

First, I pulled up a great short video about the earth science behind volcanic eruptions.

 I assembled our ingredients and brought everything outside to the deck. We used the vase as the center of our volcano. (If I were doing this again, I’d use something a little bit shorter.) The directions I found online worked great.

I filled the vase most-of-the-way full with warm water. Jonas added red food coloring,  and Susannah put in 6 drops (okay, one generous squirt) of dish detergent. I poured a heap of baking soda into a small ramekin, and each kid added one tablespoon to the vase.

Then we heaped soil around the vase to make the cone of the volcano. (Some online sources recommend making salt dough for your volcano, and I can see why. My vase was pretty tall, so we couldn’t get the dirt to heap high enough to meet the opening, at least working on the cookie sheet. Still – for a 3 and 6 year old, it was close enough.)

The final step is to slowly pour vinegar into the vase. I used apple cider vinegar because it’s what I had on hand, and look at that lovely “lava flow!”

Jonas and Susannah were thrilled and Pax was inquisitive. He even lapped up a little bit of the foamy “lava,” poor dumb pup.

After the lava finally quit flowing, we wrote about our experiment. Susannah used the large doodle pad and I wrote her words; I was really suprised at some of what she retained! Jonas wrote on lined paper and illustrated on construction paper. His text said, “Volcanos. Do not tuch lava becus its hot. What we yoused. We pute bakeing soda in the volcano then we put the drit on the vase. Then we put the vinagr. Eruption lava.”

They had so much fun, and it was so simple, that I think I’ve decided to have a Scientific Summer. It wouldn’t be too hard to pull ideas for 8-10 experiments and do one each week. If we write & draw about each one, we’d have a neat little book by the time school starts back in the fall!


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