STEAM Team Experiments with Volcanoes!

As a part of our Summer Reading Program this summer, my library has started a weekly STEAM Team program. Our young scientists and explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. For our first week, I wanted to do something really fun, so we made volcanoes and made them erupt! What could be more fun that that?! To do this program I relied heavily on the expertise of STEAM guru, Amy Koester and her wealth of knowledge! Her volcano program plans are available on the ALSC Blog.

I had to adapt it a little bit to make it work in my library, so here’s how it went:

First we learned about volcanoes using these two books:

An Island Grows I read An Island Grows by Lola M. Schaefer. This book talks about how volcanoes form islands and offered some real-life context about how volcanoes shape our world. Plus, it’s short and has beautiful illustrations.

Inside VolcanoesNext I shared some of the awesome photographs and illustrations from Inside Volcanoes by Melissa Sweet to get the kids thinking about how eruptions start and how the shape of the volcano’s form affects the eruption.

Then, we got busy building our volcanoes and testing them out!
Volcano Experiment

Supplies:

  • Salt dough
  • Paper Plate
  • Small plastic cup
  • Water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Measuring spoons and cups

Process:

  1. Put your plastic up in the middle of your paper plate with the opening on the top. The plate represents the Earth’s surface, and the cup the volcano’s magma chamber.
  2. Use your salt dough to form the volcano around the cup.
  3. Once your volcano is ready fill the cup about 2/3 full of water.
  4. Add about a teaspoon of liquid dish soap (this will add bubbles to your “lava”).
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
  6. Slowing add vinegar until the volcano erupts.
Volcano

 

After the eruptions I asked the kids some of these follow up questions. I wish I would have made a handout for them to take home because a lot of kids were excited to take their volcanoes home and show their parents. Next time!

  • Try testing our different ratios of baking soda and vinegar, what changes?
  • Try reforming your dough into different shapes, how does this affect the flow of your “lava”?
  • Can you build a larger magma chamber and volcano?

Overall, we had a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend this program. It works well in libraries and is not nearly as messy as you might expect. The plastic bin we used for the eruption site really contained all the mess. Having the sink nearby to get rid of excess liquid was key, though. The highlight of the program was when a kid asked me if I was a scientist, and I told him technically I’m a librarian, but I can be a scientist too! We are all scientists when we ask questions, observe, and explore the world around us.  Have fun experimenting, scientists!

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