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Someone bought large boy a Make your own volcanic eruptions set for his birthday in December. Aware that it was likely to be messy we had been deliberately putting if off. With the nicer weather, Easter holidays and home confinement, now seemed the perfect time to try it.
I unpacked things and read the instructions. To my surprise there were lots of bits not provided. The pictures showed the volcano on a tray – no tray. Instruction 2 was to mix plaster of Paris – in a disposable 1L container, like I have something like that lying around. I poked around the shed and found an old orchid pot, no holes in the bottom and OK to sacrifice.
Eventually we would need vinegar – good thing we had plenty in the cupboard.
Preparing the volcano
First you had to insert a tube into the volcano crater from underneath. Fine but the hole is bigger than the tube so I figured that when we did the experiment all the liquid would escape between the tube and the volcano, dripping underneath and spoiling the effect. I plugged the gap from underneath with some blue tac.
I swiftly discovered that I hate plaster of Paris. Its horrid to mix and almost impossible for an 8 year old to spread faster than it sets. We ended up with lumps all over the plastic and a pot with the remaining plaster rapidly hardening. I added more water and had to mix with my fingers to fill in the spaces.
Even though it was setting, we followed the instructions and left it to dry for 24 hours. This isn’t a quick activity.
Himself decided he would do the wet chemistry. First he had to sprinkle some red bicarbonate of soda into the top of the volcano. First problem, it went down the tube a bit. Then on top, some small pebbles. Messy messy.
Time for adding the vinegar. The tube had a kink in it and the bottle was pretty tough so himself had to squeeze really hard, even then the volcano end of the tube popped out. There was no way either of the boys could have got enough pressure to squirt the vinegar out. I managed to dye my right hand red putting the tube back. Eventually we had mixing vinegar and bicarb.
A bit of foam and some red liquid cascading down the side of the volcano was all we got. Rather underwhelmed to be honest.