Explore science principles with a homemade lava lamp

Even as youth are enjoying the summer months and the break from school they can still learn about science with quick, easy-to-assemble projects.

Young girl creating Lava Lamps at the Kettunen Center Science WorkshopWhen youth are on summer break they can still learn about science with some quick learning activities. Have you ever wondered, as you stare and become hypnotized by a lava lamp, how it works? A quick science learning activity that can be done in lots of environments that is both fun and educational can help answer that question. The simple making of a “Bubbling Lava Lamp” or “Salt Volcano” can be fun for a youth and spark their interest in the area of science. After collecting a few items youth, can learn about molecules, density, carbon dioxide gas and more.

For the creation of a bubbling lava lamp, gather these materials:

  • Clean plastic bottle with a cap
  • Inexpensive vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Fizzy tablets, such as Alka-Seltzer

To assemble the bubbling lava lamp:

  • Fill the bottle just under 3/4 full with oil
  • Fill the rest almost to the top with water
  • Add 10 drops of food coloring
  • Divide the fizzy tablets up into at least 8 pieces
  • Drop one fizzy piece at a time and watch what happens

Discuss with the youth what is happening and ask questions of why. Let the creativity flow as the youth try other experiments with the materials to learn and compare to real-life situations. It would be exciting to know that a quick and fun science activity like this one could spark the interest in a future scientist or designer.

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