Middle School Science Fair – How to Make a Fake Volcano

Middle School Science Fair – How to Make a Fake Volcano

The old “fake volcano” is a classic science fair project for middle school students. Understanding how a volcano works is just part of the project–the highlight is the actual explosion of the volcano itself. While this may not be the most original science fair project, it is certainly a popular choice and has a cool visual element that keeps kids excited about the project.

The purpose of the model volcano eruption is to learn about volcanoes but also to learn about the chemical reaction taking place between the ingredients of the eruption itself.

Here’s how to make a fake volcano for your next middle school science fair project.


1 box of modeling clay


Baking pan (disposable)

500ml empty plastic soda bottle

4 tbsp baking soda

1/2 cup vinegar

Red food coloring

Liquid dish detergent

Alka-seltzer tablets


Plain paper

Pens or pencils


Assembling the Volcano

1. Line the baking tray with a few layers of old newspaper. You can find disposable aluminum baking trays at the grocery store if you don’t want to risk ruining the one from your kitchen.

2. Place an empty soda bottle in the middle of the tray. Here’s the tough part–you need to mold the clay material around the bottle to form a basic volcano shape. Volcanos are generally shaped like mountains with a giant open crater at the top.

3. Get creative–draw pictures of buildings and people on the scrap paper. Then cut out the buildings and people with scissors, leaving a small tab at the bottom of each.

4. Bury the tabs on the bottoms of the drawings around the volcano’s base. They should stand straight up. The tabs help hold them in place.

5. It is time to start the eruption–add a few drops of red food coloring to the bottom of the soda bottle.

6. Fill the bottle with warm water using a funnel. Once the water is about three inches from the top of the bottle, stop filling.

7. Place six drops of detergent into the bottle.

8. Pour the pre measured baking soda into the bottle using a funnel.

9. Add the vinegar to the mixture by pouring it through the funnel. You can add an Alka Seltzer table to make the eruption last longer, but you don’t have to. Remove the funnel quickly to allow the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda to occur.

Since the “eruption” will probably ruin the clay of the volcano, you can only really get away with a single eruption. Make sure your middle school student knows how to make the eruption happen, since they probably only get one shot at it.

The point of this project is two-fold–your student should study volcanoes and how they erupt, but they should also understand the chemical reaction going on inside the model volcano. Make sure they understand why baking soda and vinegar react the way they do, otherwise you’ve just made a cool clay model without learning anything about science.

Copyright © Life Guides. All rights reserved. Entries (RSS) - Privacy Policy - Site Map