Favorite Quotes:

Child sitting on parachute: "Don't shoot me up too high, okay?"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Contents Under Pressure

In one of our summer theme weeks, “Tropical Island Fun,” I conducted an experiment to illustrate how volcanoes erupt. The required items included baking soda, vinegar, a little plastic bottle with a cork, and some very quick fingers.

My original intent was to conduct the experiment outdoors, in our sand table, after having the children construct a volcano out of sand. However, shortly after we went outside, it began to rain, and we had to go back inside. Needless to say, the children were very disappointed. After weighing my options, I decided to do the experiment indoors. I figured that a little baking soda and vinegar couldn’t really do too much harm, and our studio ceiling is at least 16 feet high, so there was plenty of room for the launch.

So, having seated the children at a safe distance away, with their little plastic goggles in place, I prepared the concoction. There were several attempts during which I was unsuccessful due to being unable to get the cork in before the bottle flowed over. The kids sat patiently; I tried three more times. The area had become quite messy, so I told them that we’d have to wait until the next day when we could try the experiment outdoors. But the children were very eager to see an eruption; they grabbed paper towels and cleaned everything up, asking me to try again.

It was worth the wait. On the next try, just as I secured the cork, there was a sonic-boom of a “POP!” the cork went flying, and the foamy "lava" shot up to a great height before ultimately spraying down onto me, leaving me smiling and smelling like a giant Easter egg.

The kids clapped, and laughed, and screamed “DO IT AGAIN!”

Then, one little boy ran up to me and said, “I need a new pull-up.” And so, in one way or another, we all learned the lesson of how liquid under pressure can only stay in place for so long before forcing its way out.

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