How to Make an Erupting Volcano

Students create and demonstrate an experiment that stimulates their interest in natural disasters. The experiment concludes with a simulated volcano eruption.


  • shallow pan or box;
  • papier marche volcano model painted in natural colors such as green, brown, dark gray, black or reddish brown (enlist Art Teacher to help forming model with paste and paper mixture)
  • small container, such as a 0.25 liter used water bottle;
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons of baking soda;
  • few drops of red food coloring;
  • 5 drops of liquid dishwashing detergent;
  • cup of vinegar.
  • Handout for Observations


  1. Use the shallow pan or box to hold the paper volcano model.
    To students: As you form it, think about the shape. Will you make a composite cone, cinder cone, caldera, shield, or plateau volcano? Once you've shaped the volcano, let it over night.
  2. When the volcano is completely dry & you are ready for the eruption, pour 1cup of water into the hole of the container at the tip of the volcano. Stir in the baking soda, red food coloring, and liquid dishwashing detergent.
  3. To cause eruption, slowly and carefully pour in vinegar. The base (baking soda) and the acid (vinegar) combine to produce a good bubbling-over effect due to chemical reaction.
  4. Watch what happens. How is your lava flow is similar to or different from the real thing?
  5. Record your observations on Handout.

Children gather together and discuss the activity. Talk about the result. Ask if anyone know why the volcano erupts. Introduce the students to chemical actions, which they will learn more about in the middle school.

For safety reasons, eye-protection gear should be provided.

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