Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Volcano project, a big hit in Junior High

NEW MARKET — Learning about volcanos became a fun, hands-on experience for Southmont Junior High seventh-graders.

The project was a collaboration of a new writing curriculum between science teachers Amy Gillan and Ellen Farnham. Students were asked to design a working model of one of three volcano types composite or stratovolcanoes, shield and cinder cone.

The project culminated studies the pupils conducted for two weeks.
No matter how simple or elaborate the models were made, the end results were always the same to make a volcanic eruption. Some students used basic soda powder and vinegar, while others used more thought-provoking means.

The team of E.W. Cating and Ethan Miller built a shield volcano and used a bicycle pump to create pressure for an eruption, which released the pressurized air with a valve.
There were also foam insulation built and painted volcanos.

Some designs also included miniature communities, gardens and farms. Not all volcanoes produced a successful eruption.

“When some of the volcanos were erupted, they fell apart,” Gillan said.
Many of the students like Billy Jones found recipes for homemade clay or, as Jones called it, homemade “Playdough.”

Some pupils were creative with the type of materials used to construct a visual eruption, like using Classic Coke mixed with fruit flavored Mentos.

“Most used baking soda, vinegar, a little bit of dishwashing liquid and red food coloring,” Gillan said.

Such a first-time learning lesson helped excite the students about science, Gillan said. “Kids that normally don’t do well in science have excelled in this.”

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