Volcanoes are one of the fascinating natural wonders on Earth, and learning about them was an immersive and exciting experience for our pupils. There are many ways to approach teaching about volcanoes. Still, one particularly engaging method was to have pupils create their own paper Mache volcanoes and perform experiments to simulate volcanic eruptions. They started with a few basic materials: newspaper, flour, water, masking tape, paint, and a plastic bottle used as the "core" of their volcano.
They began making paper Mache, mixing flour and water until they had a smooth, runny consistency. Newspaper strips were dipped into the mixture and laid over the bottle until they had a basic volcano shape.
Once the paper Mache had dried (which took several hours), they began painting and decorating their volcanos.
Now comes the fun part: our pupils simulated a volcanic eruption! They needed basic household materials: baking soda, vinegar, washing-up liquid and red food colouring. They each filled the hole in the top of their volcano with baking soda, then poured vinegar and washing up liquid into it. The vinegar reacted with the baking soda and washing-up liquid to create a fizzing, bubbling effect that looked like an eruption. Some added a few drops of red food colouring to make it look like lava flowing down the sides of their volcano.
There are many variations on this basic experiment in which pupils from Lower School explored. Pupils used different ratios of baking soda and vinegar to see how the size of the eruption changed.
Creating paper Mache volcanoes and experimenting with eruptions was a fun and engaging way to learn about the science behind these incredible natural phenomena. By allowing pupils to explore and experiment independently, they developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of volcanoes and the forces that shape our planet.