Monday, 1 June 2015

Cool Classroom Science – Make and Erupt a Volcano

A couple of weeks ago I made a paper mache volcano and erupted it during my book launch at the Paperchain Book Store in Manuka, Canberra. Why would I do this? Mr Haggardy’s year 6 class all make their own volcanoes and attempt to erupt them in the first chapter of “Alien Shenanigans,” The Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure, Book 2. I promised to perform the experiment while reading part of the first chapter at the launch. It was a lot of fun, although I do admit, owing to the nervousness of the manager of the bookstore, I kept the explosion somewhat more controlled than I (and my audience) would have preferred.
Below are the instructions for how to make a paper mache volcano and how to consequently erupt it!
Beware! The more baking soda you use, the bigger the reaction!

The Making of a Paper Mache Volcano

  1. Find a suitable disposable plate to build your volcano on. (I used an aluminium pizza tray)
  2. Find a cylindrical tube you can use in the centre of your volcano to hold the liquids for your experiment. (For this I used an empty Berocca container)
  3. Gather strips of newspaper.
  4. Make glue from 1 cup flour, a little water and a pinch of salt to preserve volcano. Mix to a thick pancake like consistency.
  5. Place your cylinder in the middle of your plate start adding strips of newspaper dipped in paste. Continue to add layers until volcano takes shape. Sometimes I feel it is best to paint the strips of paper with the paste when on the volcano rather than dipping into the mixture. (This is less messy).
  6. Leave to dry. Depending on the weather this may take a few days. If it is cold, place in front of a fire to dry faster.
  7. Once fully dry and hardened, paint as desired.Paper mache volcano

Erupting A Paper Mache Volcano

You will need:

  • Water
  • Liquid Soap
  • Vinegar
  • Food Colouring
  • Baking Soda


  1. Fill centre of volcano halfway with water.
  2. Add a couple of drops of food colouring. (ie: red and yellow if you want orange lava)
  3. Add a few drops of liquid soap.
  4. Now fill the volcano almost to the top with vinegar.
  5. Add a heaped teaspoon of baking soda and stand back!

Watch your volcano erupt!