Monday, June 25, 2012

L is for Luau Experiment: Very Cool Volcanoes

While exploring the terrain of Hawaii we asked our inner hula dancer...what really makes you shake? Well, a decent volcano of course! With little learners, the best way to start a lesson is with a chat about what you already know. Here's the low-down on volcanoes according to our Little Nookers...

"They are like mountains, but not"

"Psshhhhhhh!" (accompanied by appropriate gestures)

"Hot, hot lava is in and comes out"

We're sure you can imagine the excitement that this commentary might elicit among a table of to our ears. Our volcano experts painted quite a picture, but we decided to pull out a playdough model to help us fill in the blanks. 

To make this lava-loving vessel, we dug into our stock pile of recycled bottles. We generously followed a 12 oz. recipe for home-cooked hot lava and pre-measured and marked the amount of each we would need on our bottle so our Nookers could help us measure the mixture later. Next, we let little hands pat some colorful dough to create our crust and then gingerly attached it to the bottle. 

Now that our prep work was done, it was time to heat things up. After bringing our ingredients to the table, we discussed that not all volcanoes are gushers...most in Hawaii lay quiet more often than not. We talked about how lava builds up slowly over time before bubbling to the top. Our brood is most often in favor of little less talk and a lot more action so we set to work stirring up some steam.

First, we added water to our bottle. The calm before the storm.

Next, we counted aloud together five {our number of the week} drops of liquid dish soap and observed the changes.

Noticing nothing note-worthy, we eagerly added vinegar to the mix. We took a moment to take in it's fragrance. Not typical of lava, we concluded, but interesting to explore all the same.

We saved the sizzle for last and felt it fitting to call for a countdown before adding a punch of baking soda. KABOOM!! The explosion was on...


It was certainly something worth talking about!  

What you'll need to make a boom in your room...

Plastic Bottle
Liquid Dish Soap
Baking Soda
Tray or Splash-resistant workspace

A few notes from our experiment experience...
• Make sure all items are handy and pre-measured before introducing the experiment, those little hands are hasty and have a hard time waiting.
• The first time you might need to add a little water on top to make the baking soda mix in with the rest of your mixture.
• Thoroughly wash your bottle, if reusing, before additional trials. Anything lava-making leftovers may cause an early eruption!