Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lava Lamp Science Activity

I presented this lesson in density to our Wednesday co-op. And then D wanted to do it again at home. Since I had purchased enough vegetable oil to fry three turkeys we made another oil and water lava lamp, a blue one, at home.

My quick co-op lesson was an off-shoot from the Montessori God With No Hands great lesson. In that lesson, we begin with God who created everything. And, God gave everything in the universe rules to follow. Heat would make particles rise, and cold would make particles fall. Some particles wanted to stick close together with other particles, and other particles didn't feel like mixing--ever. Our co-op group discussed briefly that particles that stick closer together tend to sink and go underneath particles that like to stay further a part.

Then we got down to the oil-y reality of things and brought out the oil, water and food coloring. We made our oil and water layers and discussed how the water particles want to stick closer together and that is why they sink to the bottom and the oil particles like to be further apart and they rise to the top. We also discussed that the oil and water particles really just don't like to mix--at all--ever. Then we got to seeing all this in action.

  • tall cylindrical see-through container
  • water
  • oil
  • food coloring
  • Antacid tablets

Put everything together as follows...
 Pour water into the bottom of tall see-through container. You'll need enough water to get about a 1/2" depth.

Drink any extra water if the container is too full.

Add 10 drops of food color to water.

 Mix the food color into the water, if necessary. Here we are using a metal chopstick.
 Slowly add oil to the top of the water. Add the oil slowly so that the oil will stay at the top instead of trying to mix into the water.
 Have your older brother supervise if you aren't sure when to stop pouring. You can fill it almost to the top since there is no foaming action in this activity. But do leave a little head room (haha, no really, there really is no foam when the water solution effervesces) because the popping gas bubbles tend to splatter the oil onto the sides of the container a tiny bit.
 Take your action tabs...
 Smile for the camera...
 Drop your action tab into the container, make sure it sinks into the water layer, and it will start to bubble.
The gas bubbles will make droplets of water rise upward in the oil and because the water is more dense than the oil, the water droplets eventually sink once again when the gas is released.
 Don't cap this activity while the mixture is releasing gasses. Well, you can cap it if you want to clean up a blue oily explosion when the entire activity eventually bursts. For the lava-lamp effect, an adult can lift the container and shine a flashlight under the bottom of the clear container. It looks pretty cool and everyone liked it a lot.

Now, I have to figure out how to dispose of this activity. Any ideas?