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  • Solar Hot Dog Cooker

    Solar Cooker

    This is a great project to do in science class or as a project with your kids. You usually see kids outside with lemonade stands and Kool-Aid stands, but you don’t see a hot dog stand very often! Even better, there’s no fire used. All your kids will need is good strong sunlight. If you decide to use this project in science class, there’s no better way to get your kids attention than teaching them about solar energy with food!

    Our project will be done with a single box, so it won’t look like the commercial solar cooker above, but the project is very simple and doesn’t cost much to accomplish. Never mind that your kids will wonder why there are hot dog buns, ketchup, and mustard on your science table!

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • A cardboard box
    • Poster board
    • Hot dogs
    • Tin foil
    • A utility or Exacto knife
    • A metal coat hanger
    • Wire cutters
    • Needle nose pliers
    • Box tape
    • Glue

    Notes: If you are using a template for cutting, make sure that all of your boxes are exactly the same size so the templates will fit for all of the boxes. Make sure that your coat hangers are free of any paint!

    Directions:

    Step 1: The longer the box you use, the more heat you’ll be able to collect. That being said, choose a long narrow box and a focal length of between 5 and 10 inches. Design a parabolic curve on the longer sides of the box. You can cut out a curvature template for the boxes that allows the kids to trace. Make sure the curve is well centered and that the corners of your template reach the corners of the side of the box.

    Step 2: Cut out the sides of the box on the template line.

    Step 3: Cut a piece of poster board that will fit flush with the inside of the box. Again, you may want to have a template ready if you are going to be creating more than one solar cooker.

    Step 4: Attach the poster board with box tape starting at the middle on both sides and working your way toward the edges.

    Step 5: Apply glue to the top of the poster board and then apply the aluminum foil. Be careful not to crinkle the foil. You want it as smooth and unblemished as possible for it to work properly.

    Step 6: Use a couple of pieces of box tape to help anchor the sides. Use the sun to find the focal point of the sun’s rays so that you know exactly where to place your skewer. Putting a dot at each end of the focal point, poke a hole where you’ve placed your dots.

    Step 7: Manipulate your coat hanger into a skewer with a hand crank. Thread the coat hanger into one end, skewer your hot dog and then thread the coat hanger through the other end. This setup should allow you to turn the hot dog.

    The above is a cooker made out of a single box. Fairly simple to make (and it works) but somewhat limited. So … if you’re interested in a more elaborate design, here are instructions for one that just might burn your hand if you keep it in the focal point too log. Enjoy! … complements of YouTube …

     

    To see just how much cooking you can do with a parabolic style cooker, take a look at these videos. What a remarkable way to capture the sun’s energy! …

    And to see the article they came from, see Wikipedia
    For other fun projects …

     

    Like this solar cooker? Here is another that might interest you:  http://how-things-work-science-projects.com/build-solar-cooker/

  • cricket Chirp Thermometer

    In this experiment, you’re going to use the chirping of crickets to tell you the temperature. This experiment can be performed for fun or it can be performed and documented to be used in your science fair project that studies the animals in a particular environment. It takes a bit of time and some mathematical effort, so you may want a parent to help you out! This experiment takes about ten minutes, so it’s a fairly fast process once you have everything that you need.

    Note: Make sure your outdoor temperature is between 55 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What You Will Need:

    1 cricket container (A Kritter Keeper can be purchased at your local pet store)

    A bunch of crickets (You can either catch wild ones or purchase them at a pet store. Note: Make sure that they are full-grown adult crickets.) If you are in an area that has an abundance of crickets, you can try using their chirps to do the experiment.

    1 Outdoor thermometer (To check your answers.)

    1 Stopwatch

    1 piece of paper

    1 pen or pencil

    1 calculator (optional)


    Instructions:

    Fahrnenheit

    Step 1: Place your crickets outside after dark.

    Step 2: After waiting for your crickets to begin chirping, use your stopwatch to count the number of chirps that you hear in the span of 14 seconds.

    Step 3: Write that number down and then add 40 to the number of chirps that you counted. You’re resulting number, after your addition, should be the temperature.

    (For example, if you count 20 chirps in the span of 14 seconds and then you add the number 40 to the number of chirps, you should get 60. So you should end up having the temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.)

    Celsius

    Note: To get the temperature for Celsius, you will need to count the number of chirps in the span of 25 seconds. Use that resulting number and divide it by 3, then add 4. You’re resulting temperature should be in Celsius.

    (For example, if the crickets chirp 48 times and you divide that number by 3 and then add 4, your resulting answer will be 20 degrees Celsius.)

  • Make Your Own Lightning

    How To Make Lightening

    In this experiment, you’re going to be given two different methods for creating lightning at home. You can use this experiment during a science fair to simulate lightning as it occurs in nature. The items needed are usually found at home and this experiment is low in cost, requiring most to only purchase balloons.

    Method 1

    What You Will Need:

    1 large iron or steel pot. Do not use aluminum. (Make sure that your pot has a plastic handle.)

    Rubber gloves

    1 Iron or Steel fork

    1 plastic sheet (a dry cleaning bag is a great option)

    Method 1 Instructions:

    Step 1: Tape the bag or sheet to the tabletop. (A large counter or kitchen island works too.)

    Step 2: Put on your rubber gloves.

    Step 3: Make the room as dark as you can. (You still want to be able to see what you’re doing.)

    Step 4: Holding the pot by its plastic handle, rub it vigorously against the plastic sheeting. You want to build up as much static as possible.

    Step 5: Holding the fork in the other hand, begin to slowly bring it toward the metal pot. When the distance between the two is short enough, you should be able to see an arc of electricity jump between the two objects.


    Method 2

    What You Will Need:

    A few inflated balloons

    1 piece of wool clothing or a piece of animal fur. (Uh, no. Not your dog…or the cat.)

    A metal surface like a doorknob or metal cabinet.

    Method 2 Instructions:

    Step 1: Inflate the balloons.

    Step 2: Darken the room as much as you can while still being able to see what you’re doing.

    Step 3: Rub one of the balloons against the piece of fur or the wool clothing. You want to build up as much static electricity as you possibly can.

    Step 4: Slowly move the static-charged balloon toward the metal doorknob or whatever you’ve chosen that’s metal. You should see the electricity arc from the balloon to the metal object once they’re a short distance from one another.

     

    After this shocking project, you might like to try this:  http://how-things-work-science-projects.com/diy-electric-train/

  • Fog Formation

    For this project, you’ll be conducting an experiment. What makes fog? The project, itself, is a simple one and will only take about 2 to 3 hours to complete. This is a very good topic for science fairs if you’re willing to do a bit more research than “hands on” experimentation.

    Necessary Items:

    *Journal

    *Pencil

    *2 empty pop bottles

    *Hot water

    *Cold water

    *2 ice cubes that can be lodged in the neck of the pop bottles.

    Directions:

    Step 1: Empty and rinse out your soda bottles.

    Step 2: Label one soda bottle with the word “Cold” and one with the word, “Hot”.

    Step 3: Take your bottle that says, “Cold” and fill it about a quarter of the way up with cold water. Once you have the water in your bottle, wedge the ice cube into the neck of the bottle (Do not let the ice cube fall into the bottle. It must remain lodged in the neck) and watch to see what happens. Use your journal to record your findings.

    Step 4: Take your bottle that says, “Hot” and fill it a quarter of the way up with hot water. (The water does not need to be boiling. Simple hot water from your tap will suffice.) Now place an ice cube into the neck of the bottle labeled “Hot”. Watch closely and record your findings.

    Note: Fog will be produced in one of the two bottles. This simulation represents the production of radiation fog. As your project, you can document and record your findings and explain why this happens.

  • The Double Colored Flower

    Have you ever gone out and picked a white flower so that you could put it in colored water to dye the petals? Carnations are a particularly great flower to use with dye experiments. In this experiment, you’re going to be getting a little more creative. You’re going to be conducting an experiment that focuses on the inner workings of the flowers stem.

    This experiment will take 10 minutes to prep and the observation time will be between 5 to 10 hours.

    What you will need:

    At least one white carnation

    2 pint or quart jars

    Food coloring (Red – water soluble – dye)

    Scissors or a blade (to split the flower stem down the middle)

    Water

    Directions:

    Step 1: Fill both jars with water. Add the red dye to only one of the jars of water.

    Step 2: Split the stem of the white flower down the middle.

    Step 3: Place 1/2 of the stem in the clear water and the other half into the red dye.

    In Summary:

    Keep an eye on what happens to the flower petals and document or discuss what happens to them over the next 5 to 10 hours.

    The water is pulled up through the capillaries in the stem and up into the petals of the flower. Will the entire flower change color or will only half of the flower change color? If your flower has leaves on the stem, pay attention to those too. Not just the petals will change color. You can use this experiment to explain the inner workings of plant structure in a science fair experiment.

  • Dehydrated Potato Experiment

    Dehydrated Potato Example

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    Dehydration is a condition that almost any person can relate to. When we get too hot and don’t take in enough fluids, it’s possible to suffer from anything ranging from a headache, to disorientation, and in the most extreme cases, even death! Did you know that dehydration is something that affects a huge number of organisms, even plants? With this simple experiment we will look at the effects of dehydration on an uncooked potato.

     

    Here’s What You Will Need

    • One potato. It’s best to use smaller potatoes as this will reduce the time it takes to complete the experiment. The experiment generally takes up to one hour.
    • Two dishes or small plastic containers.
    • A knife and a kitchen cutting board.
    • Any type of salt used for cooking.
    • Fresh water.
    • Paper and a pencil or permanent marker.

     

    Carrying Out the Experiment

    Write ‘Salt Water’ on a piece of paper, and place this under one of the dishes or containers.

    Pour the same amount of fresh water into each dish or container. You will be placing the potato in the water, but it does not need to be submerged. Less than about 1/2 an inch of water is enough for this experiment.

    In the ‘Salt Water’ dish, add two tablespoons of salt. If you don’t have a measuring device, just add two heaping dinner spoons of salt to the water and stir to dissolve.

    Now cut the potato in half as close to the middle as you can.  Lengthwise or the other way is just fine, then place one half into each dish or container, with the sliced side facing down.

    Now it’s time to wait. Leave the potato slices for up to one hour, after which you will be able to note the effects of dehydration.

     

    Results of the Experiment

    What do you think will happen to the potato slices? After one hour, there will be a clear difference between each potato. The potato bathing in regular water should be mostly unchanged. However, the potato in the salt water will be shriveled and dehydrated. Salt works by pulling moisture out of the potato. If you were to use different additives in the water, you would observe different results. Try experimenting with other non toxic household ingredients and note the different effects.

    This is also a good example of what happens in the Osmosis process, if you want to understand why it works in this experiment.

    Here is a graphic that will help explain that as well ..

    Difference Between Osmosis and Reverse Osmosis. Water passing through a semi-permeable membrane

     

     

    Here are some examples of dehydration kits. They don’t use the same concept as we did above, but the result after removing the water is the same …

                            
     
     
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  • … Or Learn How To Build An Entire Solar Power Grid!

    Post Image


    Off Grid Solar Power Systems Design 101

     

    Solar power can do big things and little things like this simple cooker: http://how-things-work-science-projects.com/solar-hot-dog-cooker/

  • How to Make an Electromagnet

    Make An Electromagnet

    Objective

    This fourth grade science project is designed to introduce young students to the concept of magnetism by using everyday items they are most likely already familiar with.

    Materials

    Recommend groups of 3 to 5.
    You will need the following for each lab station:
    Project Supplies

    About 6 Ft bare (no insulation) light gauge electrical wire
    About 3 Ft insulated wire. 12 gauge or smaller will be fine
    About 1 Ft section of the same insulated wire.
    2 to 3 inch section of ½ or ¾ in dia. copper tube
    Steel bolt of your choice
    Several paper clips
    16-penny nail
    #2 Pencil
    D cell battery
    Switch (optional)
    In-line light (optional)
    Compass
    thick rubber band
    2 to 3 inch piece of scotch tape
    small piece of sandpaper
    safety glasses or goggles

    Preparation

    We can use the optional switch and an in-line light source to show students that current is really flowing, but it is not necessary to demonstrate the concept. I plan to make that available in a fourth grade science project kit soon, so if you would like to set that up, let me know and I can help. To simplify the project, we will leave these out for now.

    To save lab time, recommend doing the following in advance:

    – Assemble the material in kits.
    – Sharpen the #2 pencils so the students can see the lead core.
    – Remove about 1” of insulation from each end of the insulated wire sections.

    That’s it. Now it’s time to have fun …

    Project Day

    Before anybody gets the material out, we need to discuss a couple fourth grade science project safety items. First, we will be working with batteries. Yes, they are the same ones they use at home in flashlights, games, radios, etc. The difference here is that they will not be in a protective cover. Also, we will be hooking them up with wires. That does several things:

    – The batteries will run down quickly if the wires are left on too long
    – The batteries will get hot if left connected too long
    – The wire will get hot if connected too long
    – Rare, but a battery could rupture if connected too long

    No panics here … just please insist they wear the safety glasses.

    Then tell’em all to have fun with the experiment, but if the wire starts to get hot, disconnect it from the battery and wait a minute or two before continuing.

    Now let’s get started …

    Compass deflection

    Have the students take the battery, the 1 Ft section of insulated wire and the compass out of the fourth grade science project kit. Show them where North is, and mention that the compass should point there now. You might need to explain that a compass is really just a magnet, so it will also point toward metal, like screws and braces under the desk top. Have them move the compass around until it points as close to North as possible. This just gives them a reference point to start with.

    Mention again about the wire getting hot if connected to the battery too long, then demonstrate how to hold the wire ends on the battery to complete an electric circuit. You can use the rubber band to keep the wire connected if desired.

    Tell them that the current flows from the positive terminal (the one with a + sign by it) to the negative terminal. As the current flows in the wire, a magnetic field is created around it. We can see that in our fourth grade science project by watching the compass needle as we move it close to the wire.

    Have one student in each group connect the wire ends to the battery, while another moves the compass around. If you have a fairly advanced class, tell them to put their thumb in the direction of the current (thumb pointing away from the positive terminal). If their fingers are straight out when doing that, they will be pointing in the direction the North end of the compass will point.

    Then explain that the magnetic field really goes all the way around the wire, and if they curl their fingers while keeping the thumb pointed in the direction of the current, they can see what that means as well. (If they are having trouble grasping the concept at the fourth grade science project level … just leave this part out till next year!)

    Have them move the compass around the wire to show that the magnetic field really does “push” the compass needle straight away from the wire all the way around. At some point, have them disconnect the battery to see what happens. They should see the needle point back toward North.

    The photo below shows what they should see.
    Simple Electromagnet
    Making The Electromagnet Work For Us

    Have the students take the rest of the items out of the fourth grade science project kit. Have them carefully uncoil the wire without insulation on it. Take the small piece of sandpaper and lightly sand each of the wire ends to take off any coating that might prevent completing the battery circuit. (You can do this in advance for them if desired).
    An electromagnet in action

    Leave at least 3 – 4 inches of loose wire on each end and wrap it fairly tightly around the bolt as many times as you can. Making the perfect coil is not important to our fourth grade science project, but do leave about ½ inch of one end of the bolt uncovered to pick up paperclips with in a minute.

    Place the rubber band around the battery as shown, but do not connect the wires yet. Try to pick up a paperclip with the wrapped bolt. Does it work? It shouldn’t … we have not made a magnet yet.

    Now go ahead and connect the ends of the wire to the battery. Try picking up the paperclips now. How many can you pickup at once? Does it seem like a pretty strong magnet? (Are the wires getting hot yet ???).

    Disconnect the wire ends from the battery. Did the paperclips fall straight to the table top?

    If you picked an iron bolt, the answer will be yes. If you picked a bolt that has steel in it, then it may take a minute or so for the paperclips to fall off. Steel bolts (or nails) tend to become magnetized themselves. A sharp blow with a hammer, or just waiting a few minutes can “de-magnetize” it, but we might not want to use steel for our industrial electromagnet if we want it to “turn off” quickly. To review what is happening here, take a quick look at how magnetism works.

    But we are not done yet…

    Unwrap about half to 1/3 of the wire so that just a few strands of the coil are on the bolt. The next step requires a bit of concentration as there will be several feet of wire dangling toward the floor … but that’s ok. Continue on with the fourth grade science project by connecting the loose ends of the wire to the battery again.

    Does it pick up as many paperclips? Does it seem to be as strong as before? The answer should be no to both questions. The strength of the magnetic field is directly related to the number of turns in your coil. The more turns, the stronger the magnetic field, and therefore, the stronger the electromagnet becomes.

    Go ahead and unwrap the rest of the wire off the bolt. If you have time, repeat this with the insulated wire. If not, that’s ok … but the insulated wire is used to show that our electromagnet does not depend on the wire touching the core material. In other words, it is not a wire-contact issue. It is the magnetic field generated by the electrons moving in the wire that “magnetizes” the core.

    Testing different Core materials
    Testing different cores

    Take the small copper tube out of the fourth grade science project kit. Leaving about 3 to 4 inches of loose wire on each end, wrap the un-insulated wire tightly around the copper tube as many times as it will go. Neatness is not required. Just wrap it tight. When done, put a small piece of scotch tape on the coil to help hold the wire in place.

    Have one student hook up the battery again, and another place different cores inside the copper tube. If you start with the same bolt as before, what happens? You should have a magnet that is just about as strong as the first.

    Try the pencil. The lead that runs through it is metal … so what happens? You should see that the lead pencil will not have enough magnetic strength to pick up even one paper clip.

    Try the nail. Most are made of steel so after the first couple of attempts to pickup multiple paperclips (which should be successful), be sure to disconnect the battery with the clips still on the nail to see what happens. If the nail was used as the electromagnet’s core long enough, you should see the paperclips falling off from the last one up to the one touching the nail itself. It may even take a minute or two, and the reasons are the same as we discussed above.

    You will find that copper is a great conductor of heat, so be sure to disconnect the battery for a couple minutes between each trial.

    So What Just Happened?

    For the teacher – the success of this fourth grade science project depends two things. 1) That a magnetic field is created as a result of electrons moving through our wire, and 2) we select a core that also has magnetic properties like iron or steel. The strength of the magnet will depend on the strength of our power source, as well as the type of material we select for the core and the number of turns of wire we have in the coil around it.

    For the students – we can turn an ordinary nail or bolt into a very strong magnet just by running an electric current around it. Our fourth grade science project shows that we can control how strong this magnet is just by increasing or decreasing the number of turns we have in our coil that we wrap around that bolt or nail core. If we use an iron core, all the paperclips fall off as soon as we take the wire ends off the battery. If we use a steel one, the core can become magnetized, and the paperclips will take longer to fall off.

    … That’s it for this fourth grade science project. It’s time to put everything back in the fourth grade science project kit box until next time.

    But – – -be sure to check back in a few days … making a generator with just magnets and wire is next!!

    If you can’t wait, or you would like a more off-the-shelf product to explore electro-magnetism and other magnet projects, these will help:

     

    Attracted to things magnetic? Here is another project for you:  http://how-things-work-science-projects.com/compass-deflection/

  • Make A Volcano Project

    Build Your Own Volcano

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    Basic Earth Science Projects For Kids

    How to make a volcano? Hurl cosmic material into space, have it collect into a planet sized object (like earth for example), put it in orbit around a sun, give it a few million years for the surface to cool to a hard crust, and poof – you have the basic ingredients needed. If hot molten magma under great pressure then manages to escape through weak spots in that crust, we have a volcano.

    It’s a truly fascinating subject, and this project attempts to frame the question of how to make a volcano within that larger context of basic earth science. The topic area is rich enough to support projects at all grade levels, but this experiment is listed as a 3rd grade science project since I believe it is the first age group that can perform the steps needed with very little supervision.

    Under the right circumstances, it could also be used as a 4th grade science project, or possibly even as late as 5th grade. However, I actually performed this volcano project with two youngsters, one in pre-school and the other a kindergarten student. Granted, I was always there, and they won’t get the larger part of the earth science equation yet, but they (and I) had a great time from start to finish.

    Since our goal is to help young students tie this exercise to the larger earth science topic, additional earth science projects will be added in solar power, earthquake, tsunami, hydro energy, wind power and other related areas as time allows.

    But first – let’s answer the question on how to make a volcano using things we probably have around the house. It’s a fun science project that can be done several ways. Here is the first: papier-mâché (forever to be known here as paper-mache).

     

    Objective

    The “how to make a volcano” science project is designed to help young students learn more about earth science by looking specifically at volcanoes. We’ll also learn how common household items can be used to build useful models, with an element of creativity required to make the model realistic. Hopefully we’ll discover a few new science terms along the way as well. The experiment is done in two steps. First, we figure out how to make a volcano, then we look at fun ways to make it erupt.

     

    Materials needed Make a Volcano with Paper-Mache

    – 1 newspaper
    – 1-2 cups flour, depending on the volcano size desired
    – 1-2 cups water
    – 1 medium size bowl
    – 1 fork or spoon to stir with
    – 1 pair of scissors
    – 1 roll scotch or masking tape
    – 1 small plastic bag
    – 1 pencil or marker
    – 1 plastic or glass bottle
    – 1 medium size box
    – Paint
    – 1 medium size paint brush, (a couple more if you have several helpers)
    – Rocks, sticks, tips of pine trees or shrubs and anything else you would like to use to decorate the volcano with to make it more realistic.

    Some notes on the above materials. First, just about any drink bottle will work, but keep in mind that bottle size will determine volcano height. That’s why the amount of flour and water is shown as variable. Second, having sides around the volcano helps keep the “lava” in part 2 of the project contained. However, if having sides is not desired, then substitute a flat piece of cardboard, or even some thin plywood for the box as a stable base for the model volcano. Finally, any paint will do, but a water based acrylic is recommended for easy clean up. They also dry quickly with little need to vent paint fumes. Green, blue, yellow, red, white and black or brown should provide plenty of variety. We cut the bottom out of a small Styrofoam glass to use for mixing colors and dispensing the paint.

     

    Preparation

    Other than gathering the materials, no advance preparation to make a volcano is needed.

     

    Project Day

    If done as a demonstration for 2nd, 1st grade or even kindergarten science projects, then a single set of materials is all that’s needed. Gather the students around, let them take turns helping as time allows and follow the directions shown below. It will take at least one class period for them to make a volcano with paper-mache, another to paint and a third to add final decorations and make it erupt. At least one full day will be needed between these steps to allow for drying time.

    If done as an in-class 3rd grade science project, split the class into smaller groups as materials allow. It will still take the same amount of time to complete the project, but in this scenario, each group of students gets to make a volcano of their own. Then they can decorate it and decide what to use as simulated lava to make it erupt.

    As a final comment, a “facts about volcanoes” page will be added soon as a ready reference for information on how things work in real volcanoes. While the paper-mache volcano project was designed to be a fun science project for kids, the volcano information sheet will help tie it all together to the earth science topic.

     

    Project Steps

    Step1 – Get a medium size box and mark where you want to cut the sides.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-1

     

    Step 2 – Cut the box, but do not discard the sides.  Place the bottle in the box and draw a circle around its base big enough for the bottle to slip through.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-2

     

    Step 3 – Cut the box sides into about 1 inch strips. Yup, those are my lab rats!

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-3

     

    Step 4 – Cut the hole and make sure the box fits over the bottle.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-4

     

    Step 5 – Cover the bottle with a small plastic bag to keep building materials from sticking to the side of the bottle.

    Make a volcano structure around the bottle with 1 inch cardboard strips that were left over from the cutoff sides of the box. Staples can be used to hold the strips together if desired, but be sure to put plenty of tape around the crater of the volcano, and make sure not to cover the top of the bottle up.

    If you prefer a stronger structure, chicken wire does great … but you’ll need to supervise that, (and it really isn’t needed).

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-5

     

    Step 6 – Mix about a cup of flour with enough water to make homemade paste. It should be about the consistency of elmers glue.

    Cut or tear several dozen 1 inch strips of newspaper, but leave at least a sheet or two to put under the box to make the cleanup part easy.

    Holding one end of a newspaper strip, drag it through the paste and gently squeegee off any excess glue with fingers on your other hand. The goal is for the paper to be wet, but not dripping with glue.

    Add each glue-soaked strip of newspaper to the volcano support structure, gently smoothing each down as you go. If the forming mountainsides get too much glue on them (you’ll know), just add some dry strips to soak it up.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-6

     

    Step 7 – Continue until there are several layers of newspaper strips over the entire mountain, and on the bottom of the box.

    If you picked a larger bottle, you may need to mix more paste and cut more paper strips to get to this point, but when done, it is time to clean up for the day and let the model volcano dry.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-7

     

    Step 8 – Add some paint for effect.  Green makes a great start for grass, trees, etc – and if the volcano is tall, only rocks can be seen near the top. We used brown for that. Sky is blue … etc. Paint the volcano to make it as realistic as you can.

    You can go to the next step if desired, but it would be best to let the paint dry first if you can afford the time.

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-8

     

    Step 9 – Now decorate the volcano to make it look even more realistic. Add rocks, sticks for fallen tree-trunks, bushes, maybe even houses from a monopoly set, etc. (Then discuss why it might not be a good idea to live near a volcano).

    how-to-make-a-volcano-paper-mache-step-9

     

    That takes care of how to build a volcano using paper-mache. It’s a bit messy, but easy enough to do.  I don’t think we’ll need to explore these here, but several other construction methods you might want to ask the students to do might include …

    Moist soil
    Sand
    Homemade play-dough
    Clay
    And possibly a couple others they come up with on their own.  Let the imagination run wild … as they say.  Let them be creative!

    In the meantime, part 2 of any volcano-making project just has to be about making it erupt.  And that’s next!

     

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    Making The Eruption

    There are many recipes for volcanic eruptions using baking soda and vinegar, and different reasons to use each of the ingredients. There are a couple other chemical recipes I’m not going to add for safety reasons, but diet coke and mentos is sure fun. It is rather dramatic, very messy, and therefore quite popular! Bring plenty of paper towels, but the kids love it. Did I say messy?

    Anyway, you decide which simulated volcanic eruption you would like to try. They are all fun, and if you are doing it as an in-class project, perhaps assigning a different one to each group to see which is more realistic would be fun. Here are the links for part 2 for how to make a volcano erupt. Enjoy!

    Baking Soda and Vinegar methods
    Diet Coke and Mentos
    Salt!

     

    What just happened?

    For the teacher

    Hopefully, everybody had a great time. But also hidden in the project was some learning on how to make a volcano out of common household items. This may not sound like a major event, but modeling what we see in nature so that we may attempt to better understand it under conditions we can control is part of the scientific process at its most fundamental level. Making a small-scale model volcano, and figuring out to simulate volcano eruptions may be a fun way to do science … but science it is.

    Do be sure to discuss some of the items on the volcano information sheet (coming soon), or better yet, provide a copy to the students to review during the project. If there are more than 2 or 3 to a group, this is a great way to focus on learning more about volcanoes during times when they cannot directly participate. When introducing the project, ask them if they can figure out where magma comes from, how it gets to the surface and what happens when it does. That should bring up a number of new earth science terms for discussion as well.

    We’ll cover what causes the simulated volcanic eruptions in part 2’s project discussions.

    For the students

    At this grade level, we won’t assume T-shirts will go by the way of lab coats, and each of them striving to become the next Nobel prize winning scientists. Having fun while learning some basic skills in scientific discovery is plenty at this point. Reading the volcano information sheet (or doing a report on their own) should provide more than enough information on volcanoes, as well as a fun introduction to basic earth science.

    Once the model volcano is built (and the paper-mache mess is cleaned up), summarize this part of the earth science project with a few facts about volcanoes. Answering the above questions about magma as a group is also a great lead in for part 2 – making the volcano erupt.

    For the Teacher (with less mess)

    You can find several volcano kits on Amazon that are pretty much out of the box ready to go. Enjoy!!

     

     

    As an additional resource and fascinating reading on real eruptions, we recommend: Eruptions that Shook the World. It is a Spellbinding exploration of the history’s greatest volcanic events and their impacts on the history of humankind.

     

    Eruptions that Shook the World

     

     

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  • Welcome to the new site!

    I know all the old bookmarks, and even new attempts to reach us probably didn’t work for about a week or so.  And that’s one of the reasons changing things was put off for so long.  But I just couldn’t wrestle with the old format any longer.

    So here we go … on a new journey with a new platform and lots of new help to keep it fresh and up to date for you all.

    In fact, I would like to invite you to participate.  In the upper right hand corner you’ll see a “Contact Us” menu item.  You can click on that and say hi if you like, but if you hover on that you’ll also see you can request a topic for us to write about (or an experiment to do) …  or you can actually write about a science topic, project you did or an experiment you performed yourself and submit it to us for review and posting on the site!

    And I welcome your comments, questions and participation every step of the way with blog comments, by contact form or with written content you would like to see published.

    Again … we’re glad you’re here and welcome to Science!

    We’ll do our best to show “how things work” …