The Anti-Climatic Volcano Experiment


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My oldest had his birthday party a couple of weeks ago. His grandparents know he LOVES science (like his mommy and dad), so all of his presents had something to do with science. This past weekend, we had some time to dig into one, and decided to open the volcano experiment kit by Smithsonian.

Try this Volcano Experiment for a STEAM activity and Chemistry Experiment in one!

Our Volcano Experiment

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We opened the Smithsonian volcano experiment box, and made sure we had all the supplies. The first step was to build the support structure for our volcano. My 9 year old tried putting it together on his own, but struggled to keep the center support upright. I ended up building the frame of the volcano.

Once the volcano’s frame was built, my son and I laid pieces of wet plaster on the frame. Layering piece by piece, we carefully made the body of the volcano, then allowed time for our volcano to dry.

Try this Volcano Experiment for a STEAM activity and Chemistry Experiment in one!

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Once the plaster was dry, my son painted the volcano with the paint supplied from the kit. It even included glow in the dark paint, for some added fun! My whole family waited patiently for the paint to dry (or as patiently as a family of 3 boys can wait).

Try this Volcano Experiment for a STEAM activity and Chemistry Experiment in one!

When the paint was finally dry, it was time for the official volcano experiment! Following the instructions, we added baking powder into the volcano, then poured vinegar in. And we watched as the mixture slowly bubbled up. To be honest, it was anti-climatic.

My husband and I thought it was odd the instructions told us to add baking powder instead of baking soda. We decided to try the experiment again, but this time with baking soda. So my son poured all the remaining baking powder out. Then he added baking soda to the volcano, and poured in vinegar. That’s when we saw the explosion we all had expected!

Try this Volcano Experiment for a STEAM activity and Chemistry Experiment in one!

While the volcano experiment instructions were a little off, my son still loved his volcano kit. And I would still recommend it to other parents for a few reasons. First, the process of building the volcano’s support structure, then laying down layers of plaster is a hands-on way to experience how other structures (like buildings) are built. Every structure has a support frame built first, then an exterior layer that relies on the support structure. Kids will learn that having a stable support structure is essential for the exterior layer to be stable. Second, the kit allows kids to use their artistic side to paint their volcano, instead of having a pre-made volcano like other kits include. And the last reason I still recommend the volcano experiment kit is they can compare the reaction between the baking powder and baking soda explosions, and see how one ingredient can greatly affect the outcome!

So, if you want to try the volcano experiment kit, just remember to add baking soda instead of baking powder like the instructions suggest. Then you’ll see the explosive chemical reaction we all expect from a homemade volcano!

Check out my other experiments for more science fun!

Levitating Pumpkin Experiment
Paintball Forces Experiment
Angular Momentum with Beyblades
Explore Different Types of Beyblades Science Experiment
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Rainbow Crayon – a Crayon Melting Point Experiment
Tensile Strength Experiment: Find the Strongest Spider Web! 
Law of Inertia Experiment using a Fidget Spinner!
Center of Mass Fidget Spinner Experiment
Make an American Flag Using Water Science Experiments