Earth and Space Science

Volcano Lab with hot wax

A good lab to do (or demonstrate if you don't "trust" your kids) is to model the formations that lava makes by using hot wax. You get a plastic sheet/square plate and set it up as a slope. Then put wax paper on it. Then you take hot wax and pour it down the slope. You or students can pour the hot wax down a couple times and then you can see how the wax dries and makes different formations. The kids love peeling the wax off the wax paper....ahahha... To model lava coming out from the oceans, get a ice cold beaker of water and then pour the hot wax into it. The wax dries super fast and forms a nice model of pillow lava. At the beginning of the lab you can have the kids compare the hot wax and dry wax with a few magnifying glasses and describe the different properties of each.

Hillary Mason
Hillary Mason
540 Activity Points

Great post! This is one of those activities that I want to do myself just so I can peel the wax off the paper (and the pillow lava in the beaker is brilliant). I think I'm going to pick up some wax today! This is just one example of the many fantastic ideas posted in these forums. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and post - but most of all - that you for taking the time to perfect your craft. It's truly inspiring. Looking forward to many more fantastic teaching ideas, Kendra

Kendra Young
Kendra Young
17180 Activity Points

Foss has something similar but requiring a lower level of trust ;) They make a paste of flour and water and split it into two parts with different colors of food coloring in each. Then they "erupt" it from Ketchup bottles through tubing and out a hole in a "mountain" or a piece of cardboard. By alternating the colors, you can also see the different layers of lava flows. Not as much fun as wax, but different fun!

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65805 Activity Points

This sounds pretty cool! I think my 4th graders will love it. Although I am done teaching lava and volcanoes, I might just go back and do it with them. Thanks for sharing :) This year I tried the baking soda and vinegar with dish soap, what was cool was wrapping baking soda in a small parcel of paper towel and watching the paper towel expand and the backing soda gradually being released. It took some time, but it was pretty interesting and the kids could connect this concept to what was going on inside the earth before a volcano erupts.

Shahinaz Nassar
Shahinaz Nassar
2320 Activity Points

Maybe a good demo for 8th graders. I wanted to try the jello volcano lab demo but was not able to find my links to that one. If anyone has it can you share it? Thanks Andrea

Andrea Medrano
Andrea Medrano
1075 Activity Points

Is it gelatin volcanoes? I found the following link at the hawaii Space Grant website: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/docs/Gelatin_Volcano_508FC.pdf
Also, google gelatin volcanoes for more variations/information.

Judy Okazaki
Judy Okazaki
4175 Activity Points

Hillary, This is a great post that I am going to share with MS teachers. Thank you. One question please. Do you use Gulf wax that one uses for canning and making jams? Or another type of wax? ~patty

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45915 Activity Points

This gelatin lab is really cool, Judy. Do you take field trips to any of the volcanoes? or use some of the other educational materials provided by the volcano refuges? Thanks so much for sharing.

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45915 Activity Points

Hillary, Thank you so much for sharing this idea! I can't wait to try this out eith my students! I love that you include the example of lava meeting the water! Prior to demonstrating or having your students do his lab, do you have the students predict what will happen when the lava meets the water, how the lava will flow, etc? Thanks, Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

I noticed that some posters here are from Hawaii. If you haven't been the Bishop Museum has a wonderful hands on wax volcano exhibit the students can control and see how a volcano erupts and how "land" is formed. I have taken my students many time and this is one of the things they always love.

Will Kane
Will Kane
780 Activity Points

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