Kids and volcanoes go hand in hand for classic science fair projects or at-home fun! Below you’ll find tons of ways you can learn how to make volcanoes for kids with baking soda and vinegar chemical reactions. Explore fun volcano facts for kids and print out a free volcano information pack! Enjoy hands-on science experiments that kids of all ages love!
All About Volcanoes For Kids
One of the most popular and engaging science projects is the VOLCANO! Kids love this type of project that combines a chemical reaction with general earth science information. Getting started with making a volcano project is super easy and can be done with a wide range of ages from preschool to middle school! Plus, it’s a great science fair project!
Fun Facts About Volcanoes!
What is a volcano? The easiest definition of a volcano is a hole in the Earth’s crust or surface. Still, we recognize it as a landform (usually a mountain) where molten rock or magma erupts through a vent or opening in the earth’s surface.
A volcano is a natural opening in the Earth’s crust that releases molten rock, hot gasses, and steam. Volcanoes are often located on active tectonic plates or boundaries of these plates.
The Earth’s crust is made up of rocky pieces called plates; most volcanos lie along the boundaries of the plates. The most explosive volcanos are where one plate is forced underneath another, forcing magma to the surface.
Earthquakes are often common along these boundaries and shifting plates. Additionally, volcanos can trigger tsunamis or giant sea waves, which are also very damaging and dangerous.
Types of volcanoes: Composite and Shield
There are two main shapes of volcanoes called composites (stratovolcanos) and shields. Composite volcanoes have steep sides and can look like cones. Their eruptions are more explosive and violent than shield volcanos —layers of rock and ash form composite volcanos, which can grow into huge mountains.
A shield volcano has gently sloping sides and is wider. Shield volcanos are formed from wide rings of lava that cool in the shape of a shield. They usually don’t have explosions, just continual eruptions that allow the lava to flow out and create the more gradual appearance that it is named after.
Volcanoes are classified as dormant, active, and extinct. An extinct volcano has not erupted in a thousand or more years. A dormant volcano has not erupted in many years, but it is still possible to erupt.
FUN VOLCANO FACT: While visiting Sitka, AK, in the summer of 2022, we were told a dormant volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe, had been showing signs of activity for several months. There has not been a recorded eruption for at least 900 years, and some sources say longer. This is an example of a stratovolcano.
One of the most active volcanoes today is also the largest volcano on Earth! It is called Mauna Loa, and it is located in Hawaii. Hot gases in the magma make volcanoes like this one very explosive. Most volcanoes of this type are found around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
There is also a circle of volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean known as the Ring of Fire, which isn’t quite a full circle but contains more than 400 volcanos! It stretches over 25,000 miles and contains 75% of the world’s volcanos! WOW!
Is it magma or lava?
Well, it’s actually both! Magma is the hot liquid rock inside the volcano, and once it spills out of it, it is called lava. Lava will burn everything in its path. Bits of hot magma can spray into the air, cooling into volcanic dust or volcanic ash. This dust or ash can spread quickly through the air and coat the land for miles.
You May Also Like: Geology Activities For Kids
How Does a Volcano Erupt?
Well, it’s not because of baking soda and vinegar! But it is due to escaping gasses and pressure. You can use a homemade volcano with a baking soda and vinegar chemical reaction to mimic the gas produced in a volcano. Baking soda and vinegar are the best ingredients for a simple volcano eruption!
The chemical reaction produces a gas (read more about how it works further on) which pushes the liquid up and out of the container. This is similar to an actual volcano where gas builds up underneath the earth’s surface and forces the magma up through the hole in the volcano, causing an eruption.
Some volcanoes erupt with an explosive spray of lava and ash, whereas some, like the active volcano in Hawaii, the lava flows out the opening. It all depends on the shape and the opening! The more confined space, the more explosive the eruption.
Read more about the science behind baking soda and vinegar experiments.
Grab This Free Volcano Information Pack.
Grab this instant download for a short time! Click here for your volcano activity pack.
How to Make a Volcano Science Project
Want to make a simple volcano model? Check out how to make a volcano from salt dough and other easy volcano project ideas below! All these volcano experiments use baking soda and vinegar to represent the volcano erupting.
Here are a few suggestions to get the best eruption…
1. Use a tray to contain the overflow.
2. Add dish soap for more foaminess.
3. A few drops of food coloring are optional but have a cool effect.
4. The more narrow the opening, the more impressive the eruption. Think of a water bottle!
5. First, add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Then pour in vinegar. Repeat for maximum fun!
Helpful tips for setting up a volcano science fair project
Are you working on a science fair project? Then check out these helpful resources below, and grab our free printable science fair project pack below.
- Easy Science Fair Projects
- Science Project Tips From A Teacher
- Science Fair Board Ideas
- All About Variables
Easy Volcano Experiments to Try!
There are many fun ways to experiment with a baking soda and vinegar chemical reaction. Get creative with one of these easy ideas! Click on the links below to find out how to make these vinegar volcanoes with baking soda and what materials you need.
Remove the core of an apple and fill the center with baking soda. This makes for a fun fall theme volcano experiment!
Make a volcano model out of LEGO bricks. Then add baking soda and vinegar to a container in the center to simulate a volcanic eruption.
This experiment uses the juice from lemons as an alternative to vinegar. It’s a great example of how an acid reacts to a base. Experiment with limes too!
Cut a hole in the top of a baking pumpkin, and clean out the insides as best as possible. Add baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar for lots of foaming action! Fun fall science!
This baking soda and vinegar volcano is made with our simple salt dough recipe. Salt dough is great for a volcano project because you can narrow the top of the volcano, producing a bigger eruption.
NOTE: Playdough can be substituted as well. Great for using up left over or mixed-together playdough colors!
Use sand and a water bottle to make an impressive exploding volcano.
Got snow? Take this volcano project outside for the winter!
Ok, this one is just messy and tons of fun! Lots of chemistry going on here, though it might not look like a typical volcano. Make homemade slime and add in a bubbling chemical reaction.
Like our pumpkin volcano, carve out the inside of a watermelon and combine with a baking soda and vinegar reaction.
How Does a Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano Work?
In this case, you have an acid (liquid: vinegar) and a base (solid: baking soda), reacting to make a gas called carbon dioxide. Learn more about acids and bases. The gas is what produces the eruption, you can see.
The carbon dioxide escapes the mixture in the form of bubbles. You can even hear them if you listen closely. The bubbles are heavier than air, so the carbon dioxide collects at the surface of the salt dough volcano or overflows depending on how much baking soda and vinegar you add.
For our erupting volcano, dish soap is added to collect the gas and form bubbles, giving it a more robust volcano-like flow down the side! That equals more fun! You don’t have to add dish soap, but it’s worth it.
Try These Additional Volcano Project Ideas
If you don’t want to use baking soda and vinegar, here are a few other ways to produce an eruption.
More Chemistry Projects to Explore
- Simple chemistry experiments to try at home or in the classroom.
- Put together a chemistry camp week.
- Explore the PH scale for kids, acids, and bases. Oh my!