With their glowing red lava and impressive explosions, volcanoes are commonly selected for science projects. Projects on volcanoes typically involve research, a paper or poster featuring the findings of the research and a physical model. For an added awe factor, build a chamber into the physical model to allow for live eruptions.
The research component of a volcano project is where students gain much of the understanding of the geologic components. Students may wish to select a particular type of the four types of volcanoes: cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes and lava domes. Another option is to choose a particular volcano to research, such as Mauna Kea, the biggest volcano in the world, or Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Compile the information learned into either a paper or a poster.
You do not need to buy a lot of materials to build your own model volcano. The necessities are a square of cardboard for a base and old newspapers or paper scraps and tape to build the volcano. Cove the volcano in a coat of clay, aluminum foil or paper mache, which requires strips of newspaper and liquid starch. Paint is optional. If you are planning on demonstrating an eruption, you will also need a plastic tube, baking soda and vinegar.
Building the Volcano
With a square of cardboard as the base, build up a mountain by crumpling newspaper into balls and taping it onto the board. Shape the crumpled paper into the form of a mountain. Cover the newspaper mountain with clay, foil, or paper mache. Leave a hole at the top of the volcano mountain. Use paint and a foam brush to add details and create a realistic looking volcano model.
If you choose to include an eruption as part of your volcano project, you need to build an eruption chamber into the model. When building the model, include a plastic tube, such as a short piece of PVC pipe or an empty baby bottle, as the center of the volcano. Build the mountain around the tube and leave the area above the tube open. Fill 1/3 of the tube with baking soda. Add vinegar to the tube when you are ready to see the eruption.
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