Making a Volcano is a great project because you get to do crafts, learn about the science of volcanoes, and get to see one in action. Choosing the volcano project that is right for you can be a bit of a challenge though. I have laid out three different projects that you can choose from depending on your skill level, the age of the child, and what kind of performance you want.
Project 1: The Easy Volcano
This is a minimum mess project. Instead of the traditional paper mache or clay technique for building the cone of the volcano you can use poster board. The poster board will work fine for multiple uses but it is best if you seal it with paints or even some kind of a spray sealer. The technique for making the cone of the volcano is simple. You cut a slit from the middle of one side (a long side) all the way to the center. Then you just overlap both sides of the cut so the poster board forms a cone much like a big party hat. When you have it in a pleasing cone shape simply tape the ends together so it stays in shape. Cut a hole in the top for your bottle and then trim the whole thing down to an appropriate size. Put your bottle inside it, stuff the cone with newspaper for strength then tape it down to a board. Remember to paint it or spray seal it for durability against the erupting liquids of the volcano. Once it dries it is ready for eruption.
Project 2: The Intermediate Volcano
You select your bottle which can be just about any size ranging from a 2 liter to a 20 ounce. Place it in the middle of a sturdy board then cover it with clay or paper mache so it forms the cone shape of the volcano. If using paper mache or plaster build a frame of cardboard strips in the cone shape first then apply the paper mache to the frame. Once it is done you can paint it and it is ready to go.
To make either if these volcanoes erupt:
· fill it almost full with water
· put 4 or 5 drops of detergent right into the water
· Add Two Tablespoons of Baking Soda to the water
· Put the Volcano over the bottle so it is in place and ready to go
· Pour some vinegar right into the volcano bottle and watch it Erupt!!
To Make Paper Mache:
Paper mache is easy to make. It is just two parts water with one part flour. Mix it to get a nice gluey consistency. You then soak strips of paper towels in it and apply them to the shell to get a nice volcano look.
Project 3: The Spectacular Volcano
This volcano uses the power of Mentos and Diet Coke and it will erupt a spectacular stream a couple of feet into the air. You can make this volcano with either of the earlier techniques but you really need to water seal the cone. If you don’t, the explosion of soda will ruin the volcano and it won’t be usable more than once or twice. If you want to really make a fast but durable and waterproof volcano you can use a spray can insulating material called Great Stuff. You place your two liter bottle of soda on a board and then spray the Great Stuff all around it so it forms the cone of the volcano. Once it is dried you can paint it and you are ready to go. Great stuff will spray into a great looking magma shape and it will take you about two minutes to make your volcano from start to finish.
A note about use of Great Stuff: It is a common insulating foam used in the building industry and it is not for children to use alone. It must be applied by an adult and safety glasses and safety gloves must be worn. Follow all safety instructions that are written on the can including application in a well ventilated area or outdoors.
To erupt the Mentos and soda volcano: You simply drop three mint Mentos into the bottle at the same time and step quickly back! Three Mentos is the optimal number for the best volcano and you can’t use the flavored type. It has to be the normal mint. The key is to get the Mentos to all drop in at the same time so you should practice by holding a stack of three and then dropping them. Do this a few times into an empty bottle so you get the feel of it. You can roll a tube out of a piece of paper and stack the Mentos in that. Put a piece of cardboard over the bottle, place your tube of Mentos over the cardboard then when you pull the cardboard away the Mentos will fall into the bottle.
A note about the Soda: You don’t have to use Diet Coke. You can use just about any two liter bottle of carbonated soda. But I recommend you use a diet variation because there is less sugar and the resulting mess will be less sticky and easier to clean.
Making a volcano is a fun activity because you can learn about volcanoes and you can get to play with the volcano you made.