Earth Science 'Erupts' in the Lab

DSC07211Last week was ‘Volcano Week’ in Earth Science!  Our 8th and 9th-grade Earth Science students constructed physical models of specific volcanoes located around the globe. The week started in the Meyer Science and Mathematics Building computer lab where the students used Google Earth to search for a volcano that they would later model. Each group used the tools available in Google Earth to measure the elevation and dimensions of their volcano. They also created detailed sketches of their chosen volcano.

Some groups picked shield volcanoes like Mauna Loa or Haleakala in Hawaii while other groups picked majestic composite cone volcanoes such as Mt. Fuji in Japan, Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, and Mt. Jefferson in Oregon. One group of ninth graders took on the challenge of modeling Olympus Mons, a volcano on Mars that stands nearly three times the height of Mt. Everest!  The groups moved to the Chemistry Lab where they spent the rest of the week building and painting their volcano models.

The week concluded with ‘Eruption Day’!  While monitoring the actual eruption of Kilauea in Hawaii, our students were demonstrating volcanic eruptions with their constructed models.  Fast-flowing, low-viscosity eruptions of shield volcanoes were started with either baking soda and vinegar or potassium iodide and hydrogen peroxide while sodium and water were used in the composite cone volcanoes to demonstrate explosive, pyroclastic eruptions. The Volcano project taught our Crusaders not only about the different types of volcanoes and how they each erupt but also provided them with a hands-on learning experience that required teamwork to successfully complete the assignment.