There are few things more satisfying than doing science experiments with your children. There are so many benefits! First, it's a great way to spend family time together. Second, it will feed your child's curiosity and spark an interest in science. Third, it's a lot of fun! And fourth, but most important, you will impress your child with your intelligence and skills. And you don't even have to have intelligence and skills if you have the right guidance.
That's why we are happy to bring you an excerpt from Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments: From Boiling Ice and Exploding Soap to Erupting Volcanoes and Launching Rockets, 30 Inventive Experiments to Excite the Whole Family! It's a new book by Mike Adamick that gives you step-by-step instructions adn explanations for impressive science experiments that will convince your children that you, Dad or Mom, Grandma or Uncle, are indeed awesome. The book ships on April 18th, but as a sneak preview, here are three of the thirty awesome experiments from the book.
If you grew up watching endless Brady Bunch reruns you’re probably familiar with Peter Brady’s volcano—a mud-spewing, steep-sided science project that sent showers of muck and sludge all over Peter’s sister, Marsha, and her snooty friends. It was the coolest thing ever.
There’s a good chance that this one episode alone launched our love affair with kitchen-sink volcano projects—an experiment so simple that you and your lab partner can most likely do it right now with stuff you already have in the kitchen. All you really need is vinegar, baking soda, and a bottle to mix them in, but it is much cooler to use good ol’ fashioned backyard dirt to construct a volcano model around the bottle first and then conduct the experiment.
Either way you do it, this is a science experiment with serious thrills. But it also expertly mimics what happens under the earth’s crust to create volcanic eruptions.
Here’s Why It Works
When the solid baking soda (sodium bicarbonate—a base) mixes with the liquid vinegar (acetic acid—a weak acid), a chemical reaction occurs and forms a gas (carbon dioxide). All those bubbles and foam? They’re evidence of gas, and as the gas expands, it looks for an escape route for all that built-up pressure. So the foam and bubbles rise until they flood out of your bottle’s opening.
Pretty much the same exact thing is happening under the earth right now.
The earth’s crust is made up of many sections of superthick shell—65-plus miles thick!—called tectonic plates that are always moving, very slowly, over the much, much hotter inner earth. Most of the world’s volcanoes are found where two or more of these tectonic plates meet one another. Sometimes those plates shift and sometimes they collide, forming escape routes in the earth’s crust for molten rocks and gas, called magma. Much like the carbon dioxide in your baking soda–vinegar experiment seeks the quickest escape route to relieve pressure, the gases in the underground magma do the same thing before erupting out of a volcano.
Not all eruptions are alike, however. Sometimes the gases in the magma are easily released from the earth’s crust and the result is a slow, oozing spread of superhot lava. But sometimes the gases stay trapped beneath cooled magma and rock building up pressure until they erupt in violent explosions that can send ash and boulders flying up to 20 miles high. In fact, airplane pilots keep track of volcano activity around the earth, just to be sure they don’t fly into clouds of dangerous ash.
Here’s What You Need
A bottle (a good vase with a wide bottom and slender top also works well, but use whatever you can find)
Red food dye
Here’s What You Do