Whether you’re looking for an easy activity for this year’s Science Week or are on the hunt for something spectacular to do with the kids over the weekend, an erupting volcano is sure to fit the mould!
I mean, what child (and adult) wouldn’t love to know how to make a volcano erupt?
Even better, you’re helping them discover the wonderfully wild world of science. We’ll get to the ‘science’ part of the experiment in a moment.
But first, let’s uncover how to make a volcano for kids! You’ll only need a few ingredients from the pantry and around the house.
Remember to always supervise young children.
How to make a volcano erupt using bi-carb soda
- 1 piece cardboard (large square approx. 60cm x 60cm)
- 1 used empty drink bottle (1.25L or 2l)
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1-2 newspapers, cut into strips
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops of red food dye
- 8 drops detergent
- 4 tbs McKenzie’s Bi-Carb Soda
MAKING THE VOLCANO SHELL –To make the basic shape of a volcano, place the bottle in the middle of the cardboard base and run strips of masking tape from the lower sides of the bottle to the base to secure on the board.
Run strips of masking tape from the top of the bottle to the base in a radial-type pattern. Continue all around the bottle until a volcano-like shape is formed. This will be your frame.
To make the glue, mix 3 parts flour with two parts water and stir to combine. Coat the strips of newspaper in the glue mixture and drape them on the masking tape frame. Layer until covered to your satisfaction (at least 2 layers). Leave to dry overnight. When dry, paint the volcano as you please.
MAKING THE ERUPTION: Carefully pour vinegar into the bottle. Add red food dye and detergent.
Using a funnel, carefully add Bi-Carb Soda in one go and watch the volcano erupt.
How to make a volcano: Tips for parents
- Protective eyewear is recommended when watching the volcano erupt.
- Protect all surfaces when making and particularly before erupting the volcano as it will stain your furniture and clothes.
- If using a large drink bottle, double or triple the recipe.
And now, for the science
Because all fun projects should come with a lesson, right? I’m sure your kids probably only care about the fact that the volcano erupts all over their backyard, but, hey, if they ask, here’s the science behind how to make a volcano erupt.
The erupting volcano activity is a demonstration of a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar. In this instance, carbon dioxide gas is produced, and pressure builds up inside the plastic bottle until the gas bubbles out of the volcano. This is a good representation of what happens in real volcanoes.
A few more fun science projects
Elephant Toothpaste is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid and dry yeast. Together they form a chemical reaction that turns into an oozing, bubbling mess. It’s really cool to watch. Here’s how to do it.
An exploding watermelon is even cooler. You use the force of several hundred rubber bands wrapped around the watermelon.
Eventually, the pressure causes the watermelon to explode. The fun is you don’t know how many bands it will take. I’ve done it twice with my kids – the first time it took 606 bands, the second 1080 bands. Give it a try and see how many rubber bands you need.
See it in action below and read how to do it here: