Family doing a science experiment, baking soda volcano.

Learning objectives

To learn about the properties of chemical substances.

Resources needed

  • Play-doh or papier-mâché
  • A plastic jar
  • Red food dye
  • Warm water (acts as an accelerant)
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Vinegar



The first step is to build the volcano—wrapping a jar in Play-Doh will do the trick, or use papier-mâché for those feeling a bit more ambitious. Decorate it with whatever scraps you have or some natural items from a park or garden, like pebbles, grass and flowers. Go outside or prepare for some clean-up inside.

Volcano project
Bicarbonate of soda volcano

To erupt your volcano:

1. Add two or three teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to your plastic bottle/jar.

2. Pour in half a glass of warm water mixed with the red food dye.

3. Pour in approximately a glass full of (inexpensive) vinegar.


How to put the idea into practice

Provide assistance in gathering all materials and supervise the mixing of the substances. 

Explain how it works  

The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a base while the vinegar (acetic acid) is an acid. When they react together they form carbonic acid which is very unstable, it instantly breaks apart into water and carbon dioxide, which creates all the fizzing as it escapes the solution.

Follow-up question: 

Does the shape of the volcano affect the direction the eruption travels? 

Research with Plymouth Institute of Education