Experiment with how volcanoes work
Discovery Place Science
Volcanoes are essentially mountains that can spew lava to the surface. Volcanoes contain molten rock called magma. Magma exists below the surface of the Earth. Once magma reaches the surface, it is called lava. As lava cools on the sides of a volcano, it can increase the size of a volcano. As more and more lava cools on the outside of a volcano, an island or landmass can be made from the lava.
In this experiment, we will use household items to create our own miniature volcano and see how it looks when lava flows down the sides of it. As always, be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when doing an experiment and be sure to have an adult helping out.
This is a fun, quick experiment that gets you thinking about how volcanoes work. It will take just five minutes of preparation and includes 5-10 minutes of learning time.
- Hot water from the tap (120 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately)
- Small cup
- ½ Tablespoon fast-acting yeast
- Pan (to contain the mess)
- Soda bottle
- Red food dye (optional)
- ½ cup Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- Dish soap
1. Cut open yeast. Combine yeast with 120°F water (be very careful when pouring water). Stir together in small cup. Set aside.
2. Put soda bottle in pan/tray. Using a funnel, pour hydrogen peroxide into soda bottle. You can build a volcano around your soda bottle to make it more realistic. Things like clay, foam, or papier- mâché work great to make a volcano model
3. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring into the soda bottle and stir so that the food coloring mixes with the peroxide and will resemble hot lava when the volcano erupts.
4. Add in a few drops of dish soap (Add more to make it even more bubbly.)
5. Pour in your yeast mixture and watch the eruption!
What we learn
This experiment is an example of a biochemical reaction. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down cells that lack an enzyme called peroxidase. Human beings have this enzyme in their bodies. Bacteria do not have peroxidase.
When you put hydrogen peroxide on a cut, it starts to puff up and bubble. This reaction occurs because your peroxidase enzymes are defending your body from the hydrogen peroxide. Because bacteria do not have peroxidase, the hydrogen peroxide is able to kill the bacteria in your cut.
Yeast, just like us, has peroxidase. It puffs up when it encounters hydrogen peroxide. We use the biochemical reaction between peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide to create our super bubbly volcano.