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Make a Volcano Science Project

This article has information on how to make a volcano science project, including what materials are needed and directions on three different ways to make a volcano, including constructing the body and making it erupt.


This project presents the two important parts of making a volcano: building the body of the volcano and making it appear to erupt.

To extend the project, you can consider the following:

  • Try constructing the mountain out of different substances and compare the results.
  • Try creating the eruption in various ways and compare the results.
  • Compare and contrast the project volcano with a real volcano.
  • Build the volcano to match a particular real volcano, paying attention to size, shape, and plants that would be present for an accurate depiction.
  • Try varying the experiment by warming the vinegar and/or adding a small amount of liquid dish soap.

Make a Volcano Part I

In this project, students build the volcano.


  • Baking pan, dish pan, box lined with foil or plastic wrap, or other large container to hold the project
  • Building material: choose between soil, papier-mâché, play dough, other home-made malleable art materials for modeling and building
  • An empty water or soda bottle.
  • Acrylic or poster paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Pie plate for mixing paint colors

Recipes for papier-mâché and play dough:

Papier-mâché: Start with pulp - mix it into the wallpaper paste and moisten it just enough to be able to model it. Create a hill shape around the base of the bottle. Then make a bowl of adhesive by mixing water into wallpaper paste until it is the consistency of thick pudding. Or create the hill shape with crumpled newspaper and cardboard and then apply strips on top of that.

Strips: Use torn newspaper: dip it into a bowl of moistened wallpaper paste and pull it through your second and third finger or second finger and thumb to coat the paper. Then apply it over the bottle and the pre-formed hill to build up the shape of a moutain.

Play dough: Mix 4 c (.95 L) flour, ¼ c (.06 L) tempera powder, ¼ c (.06 L) salt, 1 ½ c (.36 L) water, and 1 Tbsp (14.8 mL) cooking oil. By using brown tempera powder or mixing red and green, you can make the dough dirt-colored.


  1. Cover a table or other area with newspaper.
  2. Place the container in which the volcano will be built in the center. If it is a box, cut off the flaps and cut down the sides if necessary to be able to work more easily.
  3. Place the bottle in the center. If you want to perform multiple times, build the project in a box and cut a hole in the bottom of the box so you can take out and clean the bottle. Cover the bottle opening with a small, tightly wrapped piece of foil for now so no building materials get into.
  4. Use the Papier-mâché or play dough instructions, or use soil to build up a mountain shape around the bottle, leaving the top of the foil cover visible.
  5. If the building material needs to dry, let it dry.
  6. Paint or otherwise decorate the volcano.

Make a Volcano Part II

In this project, students cause the volcano to erupt.

Three Different approaches

Vinegar and Baking Soda 1

baking soda, a tablespoon, vinegar, a measuring cup, food coloring, funnel

  1. Place 1 Tbsp (14.8 mL) of baking soda in the bottle.
  2. Mix red food coloring into 1 c (.24 L) vinegar.
  3. Pour the colored vinegar into the bottle through the funnel.

Vinegar and Baking Soda 2

baking soda, a tablespoon, vinegar, a measuring cup, food coloring; tissue paper

  1. Place 1 to 1 ½ c (.24 to .36 L) of vinegar in the bottle, colored if you like.
  2. Wrap 1 Tbsp (14.8 mL) of baking soda in tissue paper.
  3. Drop the tissue paper into the bottle.

Soda and Mentos®

an unopened bottle of plain cola, which will be substituted for the bottle in the box, 3 original flavor mint Mentos®, funnel wide enough for Mentos® to easily slide through, and a small piece of cardboard

  1. Open bottle of cola and immediately place it into box through the hole.
  2. Place the cardboard under the funnel and insert the Mentos (the cardboard is keeping them from falling out the bottom for now).
  3. Place the cardboard with the funnel above it over the bottle. Pull back the cardboard until it is only up to the edge of the bottle and you can hold the funnel and bottle together with one hand to keep them lined up as you pull away the cardboard with the other hand (or get a partner to help you with this part).
  4. Pull the cardboard away.