I Lava You ~ Giant Volcano




Introduction: I Lava You ~ Giant Volcano

I recently realized that as a kid, I never made an exploding volcano for a school science project. Years later, with 4 hours to spare and the help of some friends, I finally created one... it was EXPLOSIVE!

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Step 1: Preparation

The first step to creating a volcano is deciding what kind of volcano you'd like to make. It's important to choose one that will have a solid structure, and one that will have a decent sized eruption (you don't want to waste all of your time for a sad, small explosion!).

For this project, we decided that bigger was better. We created a 3.5 foot tall paper mâché volcano and decided to use Diet Coke and Mentos for our eruption.

Here's a list of all of the materials we used, it's important to make sure that you won't mind if any of these materials get wet or ruined...

  • Small table (made from scrap wood)
  • 3' x 10' Chicken wire
  • Zip ties
  • Wire cutters
  • Styrofoam Board (4' x 10') (leftover from an old project)
  • Foam cutter
  • Old newspapers (that were going to be thrown out)
  • 10 bottles Elmer's glue
  • 3 Bottles of Diet Coke
  • 6 Rolls of mint Mentos
  • 1.5 lbs Dry ice (optional but cool!)
  • Bowl of warm water
  • RGB Strip with power source (optional but very cool!)
  • Desk lamp with red light bulb (also optional, but highly recommended)
  • Black paint (or whatever color you'd like your volcano to be!)
  • Paint brushes
  • Heat gun (optional but speeds up drying process)

Step 2: Structure

When we first started designing the volcano, we decided that we were going to place everything that would be in the inside of the volcano onto a low table. This provided us with a nice flat surface to place things on, allowed the eruption to be closer to the mouth of the volcano, and most importantly, served as our structure.

We began by wrapping chicken wire upward around the top of the table. We tightened it and secured it with zip ties. Using wire cutters and more zip ties, we continued to shape it until it looked like a volcano shape (this involves a lot of patience). We were running low on chicken wire, so we decided to use the foam board to cover and shape the bottom area around the table. We used zip ties to secure the foam to the chicken wire.

Step 3: Paper Mâché

This part was tons of fun, but very time consuming. Using a 50/50 mixture of Elmer's glue and water, we'd dip the newspaper and very gently lay it on top of the chicken wire and foam board. We found that folding the paper in half to thicken it really helped prevent it from breaking apart. Here we used a heat gun to help speed up the process.

**(If you decide to use a heat gun, be sure to hold it at least 6 - 8 inches away so you don't accidentally set your volcano on fire!)**

Step 4: Painting and Lighting

We began to paint our volcano black and decided to add a strip of RGB lights to the outer shell. We also placed all of the explosion materials inside of the volcano, on the table.

This included:

  • a desk lamp with a color changing light bulb (we put a giant, clear ziplock bag over the head to minimize any potential damage)
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Dry ice (into the bowl of water to start creating a smoky effect)
  • 3 bottles of Diet Coke (leave the caps on)

Step 5: Make It EXPLODE!

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to create mechanisms to release the Mentos into the Diet Coke. Instead, we made tubes by rolling up thick paper and then loaded them up with the Mentos. When we were ready to make the volcano erupt, we removed the caps off of the Diet Coke bottles and aligned the paper tubes with the bottles. What happened next is shown in the pictures and video above... Enjoy!

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    That looks like a lot of fun. When I kids are a little older, I am definitely going to make one of these with them.