Science Experiment 1: Erupting Volcano

By AG Education | August 9, 2016

Why would you play ‘the floor is lava’ when you could make your own volcano?

National Science Week (Aug 13-21) is here again, and the team at Australian Geographic are really excited! We’ll be getting along to some of the events at the Australian Museum and Powerhouse, though there are events on all around the country.

To celebrate, we’re putting up a different science experiment every day! You can try these at school or at home, and they’ll help you learn more about space, volcanoes and heaps more. Have fun!

Erupting Volcano

The surfaces of Earth, Mars and some moons are shaped by volcanoes that spread lots of liquid rock called lava. The Earth still has many active volcanoes on it today, including some fiery ones on the islands of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Mars has not had any active volcanoes for millions of years, but it does have the largest volcanic mountain in the Solar System. Known as Olympus Mons, this mountain on Mars is three times taller than Mount Everest!

Make your own volcano at home with this quick experiment! Make sure you ask a parent to supervise this one!

Materials

  • An empty 500ml plastic bottle
  • Large baking tray
  • Heap of soil
  • A few drops of red food colouring
  • 225 ml of vinegar in a jug
  • 15 ml of bicarbonate of soda
  • A tablespoon

Steps

  1. Place the empty bottle upright in the middle of the baking tray and remove the cap.
  2. Put the bicarbonate of soda into the bottle using the spoon.
  3. Shape the soil firmly around the bottle to make a mountain shape. Don’t cover the top of the bottle.
  4. Add a few drops of red colouring to the vinegar.
  5. Now pour the vinegar into the bottle and watch what happens!

When you mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, they react together to make a gas called carbon dioxide. The gas builds up inside the bottle until it forces its way out the top. Beneath the Earth’s crust, magma, a mixture of rock and gases, sometimes does the same thing. It rises up through cracks in rocks and bursts out as lava.

See the full list of daily science experiments.