Volcano Project Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Studying volcanoes can be a great way to get children excited about science! The projects in this lesson will help bring volcanoes to life for your class.

Why Volcano Projects?

Are you in the midst of an earth science study? If so, you might be looking for ways to get beyond the textbook and bring the study of our planet to life for your students. Certain aspects of earth science lend themselves particularly well to hands-on projects. One of these topics is the volcano! Students often find volcanoes fascinating because of the built-in excitement about the eruption. One way to maintain this excitement while also incorporating scientific analysis is to have students do projects around volcanoes. Projects can be great because they activate students' minds and access a variety of strength, modalities and learning styles. Often, projects involve collaboration, and you might even be surprised at how much your students can learn from each other! The projects in this lesson are designed to teach your students more about volcanoes and how they work.

Model Volcano

This is a classic project in many ways, but that is no reason to assume that your students have done it! To build this kind of model volcano, you will need:

  • newspaper
  • one or two cups of flour
  • one or two cups of water
  • one medium sized bowl
  • one mixing spoon
  • pair of scissors
  • masking tape
  • small plastic bag
  • marker
  • plastic or glass bottle
  • medium sized box
  • paint and a paint brush (preferably one for each student)
  • decorations (rocks, tree branches, twigs, leaves)

You can have students do this project in small groups with adult facilitation, or older students can do it more independently. Cut your box so that the sides are shortened, and put the bottle in the middle of the box. Draw a circle around the base of the bottle. Next, cut the box sides into strips about one inch wide. Cut the hole where you drew a circle around the bottle. Cover the bottle with the small plastic bag and fit it through the hole. Using your cardboard strips, make a shape of a volcano around the bottle using lots of tape. Do not cover the bottle. Mix the flour and water to make a paste. Cut your newspaper into strips and put more newspaper under the box to minimize mess. Then, drag the newspaper strips through the paste and plaster the volcano with them. Let it dry overnight, then have students paint and decorate.

Model Eruption

You may want to go the next step and let students cause an eruption as well! One way to do this is using baking soda and vinegar. Put about a quarter of a cup of vinegar into the model using a funnel. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of colored jell-o powder. Then, funnel it into the bottle. The baking soda and vinegar will mix to cause an exciting eruption! When your students watch this, ask them to reflect on what it would be like to see an actual volcanic eruption.

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