What do you need to make your own volcano?

  1. Discuss with students what elements are necessary for a volcano to erupt (a build-up of pressure that can't be released, magma material).
  2. Bury a small, wide-necked bottle (a baby food jar) or a can inside a mountain of sand.
  3. Add 4 teaspoons of baking soda to the bottle.
  4. Mix together 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid, 1/4 cup vinegar, and a dash of red food coloring.
  5. Pour some of the mixture inside the small bottle and wait for the eruption. If nothing happens right away, stir it up.

The baking soda and vinegar form carbon dioxide gas that mixes with the detergent to create the "lava," which bursts from the volcano like magma bubbling to the surface.

  1. Discuss how this eruption is similar or dissimilar to an actual eruption. What's missing?

Volcanic Creation

Volcanoes have played an important role in the evolution of our planet. Scientists theorize that most of the Earth's water came from gases emitted by erupting volcanoes in the early years of Earth's history. Volcanoes also created rocks, sand, soil, and whole islands from lava, ash, and other volcanic materials.

Find out more about how volcanoes continue to shape the Earth, as well as the undersea landscape. Investigate deep-sea vents, black smokers, and chemosynthesis. One reference is Deep-Sea Vents: Living Worlds Without Sun by John F. Waters (Cobblehill, NY, 1994). Also investigate how people use submersibles, such as Alvin to research the volcanoes on the bottom of the ocean

Volcanoes in Space

Do volcanoes occur or have they occurred on other planets? What evidence supports or refutes this?

Volcanoes from Space

Discuss what aspects of a volcanic eruption and its effects can be observed and measured by satellites (release of lava, gases, change in air temperature and land temperature in immediate vicinity, dispersal of dust cloud, etc.).


  • wide-necked bottle (such as a baby food jar)
  • pile of sand
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • dash of red food coloring
  • tub to hold it all(or do this outside)