How to make a realistic erupting volcano

Written by john gugie
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How to make a realistic erupting volcano
Make an erupting volcano for a school project. (wikicommons: Luigi Chiesa)

Volcanoes are always an interesting natural phenomenon to kids, especially when the volcano is erupting and spewing lava from the top. Making realistic erupting volcanoes is a staple of elementary and high school science fairs. This guide shows how to create a realistic-looking erupting volcano using household supplies. It is a simple project that can be embellished as much as the creators choose.

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Things you need

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups water
  • Food colouring (blue, red and yellow)
  • Large bowl
  • Sheet of cardboard
  • 1-liter soda bottle
  • Superglue
  • Newspaper
  • Tape
  • Rolling pin
  • Metal fork
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • A few tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

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  1. 1

    Make the material for the outside of the volcano. The outside of the volcano will be sculpted with a flour mixture, not unlike that of papier-mâché but thicker like a cake batter. Mix the 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, 4 tablespoons of cooking oil and 2 cups of water in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and firm. Add some food colouring to colour the dough as the colour of a real volcano -- a kind of a dark brown (use some red and blue food colouring). Place the dough on a flat surface coated with flour and roll it out into a large thin sheet with a rolling pin (it should be large enough to cover the soda bottle and the rest of the volcano parts).

  2. 2

    Assemble the volcano. Cut a sheet of cardboard from a box (about 2 foot square) and lay it on a flat surface. Place the 1-liter soda bottle (with the bottle cap removed) in the centre of the sheet of cardboard and attach it with superglue. Roll the old newspaper into large balls and tape or glue them together around the outside of the bubble to form the cone shape of the volcano (make sure they go around the top of the bottle but not blocking the spout of the bottle. Lay the sheet of dough over the bottle and the newspaper balls. Place a hole in the dough over the top of the spout of the bottle. Tease the surface of the wet dough with a metal fork to give it the appearance of the surface of the volcano rock. Allow the dough to dry.

  3. 3

    Decorate the volcano. Paint the dough with earthy colours for the rocks, dark green for vegetation, and orange, yellow and red around the outside of the top to represent the lava starting to flow out. Be as creative as you want.

  4. 4

    Make the volcano erupt. Pour 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, food colouring to make the liquid look like lava (red and yellow) and a few tablespoons of water into the spout of the soda bottle. Prepare the volcano and spectators for the eruption. Pour 1/4 cup of vinegar into the bottle on top of the other ingredients; the chemical reaction between ingredients causes the coloured liquid to foam and shoot out through the bottle spout and over the edges of the volcano.

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