Volcanic Science in the Park

My sister married a rocket scientist. I married a real estate auctioneer. But that doesn't mean MY kids can't experience the joy of becoming science geniuses.

We all know what baking soda & vinegar will do when combined. It erupts, like a volcano, bubbling and spilling over the top of the bottle. Let your child discover this magical chemical reaction for themselves.

Make sure you’re somewhere that messes are easy to clean up. When you want to stay in, the sink basin is a wonderful science lab with easy clean up! But when the weather's nice, hang out on the driveway to let the mess just slide down, or in the neighborhood cul-de-sac, or back porch. To take the experimential learning to the next level, take it with you to a park and build mini volcanoes in the sand. Build a mountain around the bottle just up to the neck, then watch as the homemade volcano erupts!

Choose a small plastic water bottle, soda bottle, or cup, grab a box of baking soda, a jug of vinegar, & a funnel. A few tried and true tips from my experience as a mom, a preschool teacher, and my memory of loving this experiment as a kid:

  • Put a few drops of dish soap in the bottle ahead of time to make the result more visible. It adds viscosity (a good volcano word) --meaning, makes it thicker--so slows down the reaction...a little.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring. This is just fun, and also more helpful to see.

Then throw out the rule book. No measuring. No input from Mom. Just let the kids explore & see what happens!

If they’ve never used a funnel in a functional way before, show them that when you put the funnel into the neck of the bottle, it is easier to pour your powder & liquid into the bottle without spilling.

You can talk together about what is happening. The acid (vinegar) and the base (baking soda) are having a chemical reaction, releasing carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles are visible because the dish soap captured the carbon dioxide.

Because….your child will not be satisfied with one go-round of this! I guarantee they will want to do it again & again!

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About Kerri

Ahh…see that smile on my face? That’s a genuine smile. I love my family. I love the 4th of July. I love the beach. I love ice-cream. And the day this picture was taken, I was getting the combination of it all. Ahhh…that’s a real smile!
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