Volcano Lab

What do you get when you find golden syrup, floating pumice and a steaming volcano in one place? A volcano activities day!

It’s half term for the kids so members of the Bristol Volcanology Group headed down to @Bristol, Bristol’s science centre, to help at their volcano lab.

Jenny demonstrates the inner workings of a volcano
Jenny demonstrates the inner workings of a volcano

Our centre piece is our working volcano where an air compressor hidden within the table sends air up through the clear tube. The tube contains silicon oil to simulate magma within the volcano. The compressed air travels up the tube in discrete ‘slugs’ before bursting at the top, just as bubbles travel in a real volcano.

The kids also had another activity to investigate bubbly magma. Jessie (below) is wonderfully demonstrating how three different fluids  (golden syrup, dyed glycerin and water) have different viscosities so bubble trapped within them take varying amounts of time to travel upwards. However, the clear favourite with the kids was to turn over the long tubes (centre right of photo, looks a little like three sand-timers in one) where they could watch the bubble rise up at different rates.

Viscous fluids
Jessie spinning the lids of three jars golden syrup (right, yellow), dyed glycerine (middle, red) and water (left, colourless). Inside the jars are little rudder type plates meaning that spinning the lids is harder for the more viscous fluids.

In the few hours that I was there, the children (and parents) were really engaged loved the activities. A couple of kids even told me how their parents have some lava at home!

You can pop on by and see us next weekend and if you’re about during the week you can ‘meet the expert’ and do some cool experiment between 2-3pm each weekday.

Bristol Volcano Lab
Bristol Volcano Lab

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