It did not take long for fourth-graders at Bayville Intermediate School to discover how to elicit the desired response from their handcrafted volcanoes.  Through observation and experimentation, these young scientists learned how to adjust the scientific method to create a larger eruption. The secret seemed to be in the amount of baking soda used. 

As part of a science lesson on volcanoes, students used flour and water to build miniature replicas of the explosive mountains with the guidance of Teaching Assistant Pat Valenza. After letting the models dry, the fourth-graders returned to the science lab to put them to the test.

As the first group added baking soda, food coloring, dish soap and vinegar to the opening of the volcano, the remainder of the class watched and learned. The first volcano spurted slowly, oozing down the sides with no excitement. “Why do you think that happened?” asked Valenza. Hands were raised at every table, ready with the answer. They all agreed that more baking powder was needed. Each group then experimented with various amounts of each ingredient, and the class as a whole compared the results of each variation.

Fourth-grade teacher Maureen Pederson asked her class questions as they went through the experiment, reinforcing the science lessons they had focused on in class. “This hands-on experiment helps them understand the concepts they’ve been learning,” Pederson said. “They have fun and they remember what they learned.”