Mad Scientist Day!

Today was a massive success!

I woke up a full hour earlier than I normally do in order to go collect supplies from Wal-Mart, and arrived at my school with an armload of supplies, including definite crowd pleasers, baking soda and vinegar.

Anyway, we started with a small experiment to get the party going.

Ziploc Bag Explosion


Baking Soda


Warm water

Paper towels

Ziploc bags (I used the sandwich size, although no size was specified in the instructions I found.)



Tear your paper towel so that you have a piece about five-by-five inches. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda into the center of your paper towel, then fold the paper towel into a small square, packaging the baking soda in the middle as tightly as you can.

Test your Ziploc bag for holes.

Once you have a hole-free bag, pour 1/4 cup warm water into the bag, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

**My students gagged dramatically when I opened the vinegar, and of course the ones who couldn’t smell it begged to smell it, followed by about 500 times more gagging after they caught a whiff. I use vinegar pretty frequently when I clean my apartment, so I’ve grown accustomed to the smell.**

Zip your bag about halfway shut, then drop your baking soda packet into the bag. Zip it completely as quickly as you can, then shake the bag vigorously for a few seconds. Set the bag down and back away.

It will puff up very quickly and dramatically, and then give a very satisfying pop and explode (it’s a very small explosion, but our bag did rip on the side and some of the liquid spilled onto the floor).

**It’s a good idea to do this experiment outside or in a sink or bathtub if possible, but if you’re not able to do any of those things, you can set the bag on top of a towel and it will work out just fine!** 

I forgot to take any pictures or videos of this experiment, but I can promise you that it is a crowd pleaser, especially for younger kids. I will definitely be repeating this one with my four year olds once winter break is over and my grade-school kids are back in school.



Volcano base:

3 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 tbsp oil (I used vegetable)

1 cup water

Empty 20 oz. bottle



Dish soap

Baking soda




To form the volcano itself, mix the flour, salt, water, and oil together and work with hands or a spoon to form into a base. I will tell you that I ended up adding a little extra oil to my dough because it was rather dry.

Once the dough is ready (the consistency is similar to modeling clay), place the empty 20 oz. bottle in the middle of a deep dish or pan. Take the dough and press it around the sides of the bottle. Be careful not to plug the top of the bottle, but cover the rest up. (This isn’t necessarily imperative, as it doesn’t change the outcome of the experiment, but you can’t call it a volcano otherwise!) I added a few drops of red food coloring down the sides of the volcano to make it look a little more interesting, but this basically made our volcano look like it was bleeding.

Once your volcano is formed, pour a little water down into the bottle (be very careful so that you don’t soak the dough). Don’t fill the bottle up- about half will be fine. Add a dollop of dish soap and spoon in a little baking soda. Last, pour in about 1/3 cup of vinegar (we added red food coloring to the vinegar). It will bubble up and erupt over the sides of the volcano.

**Of course, once we did this once, we had to re-do it several times. Every time, they requested a different color for the lava, so by the time we were done, we had a very strange multi-colored volcano.** 



I have never seen this experiment before, and I think I was just as excited as they were when it started bubbling over!

I hope that soon we can develop Mad Scientist Day into Mad Scientist Week! My fours will be studying the letter S soon, so I’m going to work on expanding this into a week-long activity!




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