Volcano Effects Science Lab

We have been talking second grade science!  Specifically, we'll chat about the Next Gen standards on landforms and how to implement hands on activities, science labs, and STEM challenges while learning about Earth's surface.  You can catch up on all of the blog posts here:
Google Earth Landforms Tour
Earthquake Structures Science Lab
Volcano Effects Science Lab
Ideal Island STEM Challenge
Weather + Erosion Stations
Sandcastles STEM Challenge

In the last blog post I told you how earthquakes seem like the most exotic thing to this Arkansas born and raised girl.

I lied.

Volcanoes are more exotic for me.  #shouldalookedahead

I've never so much as even seen a volcano IRL.  (Yes, I just said IRL in a blog post.  And I'm 34.  But, hey, I just learned what this stands for last week and I'm super proud of my hip self.  Also, I might be going a little stir crazy this afternoon. #InRealLife)

The closest thing to an IRL volcano I've experienced is the baking soda and vinegar kind.

That activity never gets old for me.  I love it every time.  And so do the kids.

But for second graders, I wanted to "beef" up this activity some.  Many kids start seeing this demonstration as preschoolers so I didn't want this to be the same ol' experience.  But mainly, I wanted to make this more of an experiment and have something to test.

And since our focus during this landforms unit is to observe changes to landscapes and landforms, I wanted to tie the experiment in to that idea.
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Volcano Set Up

For this experiment, you will need...
*paper plates
*play-doh
*empty water bottles with the bottom half cut off
*baking soda
*vinegar
*red dye
*cups to pour
*spoons
*green M&Ms

We used the top half of the water bottle as the volcano structure.  We built a volcano mountain around the bottle with the play-doh.  The volcano will sit on top of the paper plate.

Then, we designed a "forest" of green M&Ms to represent the landscape around the volcano.  Have the students think about where they want to put the forest.  Close to the volcano? Far away?  All around?

Feel free to add "buildings" with brown M&Ms or lakes with blue M&Ms too if you like.

But most importantly, don't forget to sneak and eat a few M&Ms.  Trust me, the experiment isn't as fun if you don't eat the treats! :)

Volcano Predictions & Observations

Once the volcanic landscape is built, we predicted the effects.   We drew a picture of what would happen when the volcano erupted.  Specifically, we talked about the forest.  Would it survive?

NOTE: I did this at home with my 5 year old so he just drew a picture of what the red lava might do.  Second graders could easily write a sentence or two about their prediction. This is a very flexible handout.

Then, we put a spoonful of baking soda inside the water bottle...

and poured red vinegar into the water bottle slowly and observed the effects.

We recorded our observations.

Volcano Effects

The fun thing about doing several volcanoes during your science block is that you can compare everyone's volcano effects.  Give the students time to walk around and observe everyone's effects.  Not everyone's forests will be destroyed.  So, this makes a great conversation.

Why were some trees saved?  Why were some forests completely destroyed?

After our discussion, we wrote down our conclusions about how and why our landscape changed.

You can find this science lab, plus much more science and STEM challenges in this landforms unit.

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