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Volcanoes


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Go for the adult book shelves to get good picture books for volcanoes. Erupting one isn't all that hard, but really, it doesn't do it justice.

I also rented a National Geographic film on Volcanoes and it was just wonderful for evening viewing. Also, it is nice to show videos and talk about areas that have been formed by volcanoes, and how they are important to the area. We just finished an evening nature film about The African Rift Valley. Wonderful pictures of the amazing volcanoes and how they are important to that area. I'm still hoping to get something on Iceland, because my son who wants to be a vulcanologist this week still thinks it is pretty cool to have a place called Iceland seething with volcanoes.

And you will probably want some volcanic rocks to work with. I think my boys found floating pumice more entertaining than the volcanoes they erupted in the front yard.

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The baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano really kind of annoys me. It's a nice little project in order to learn something about chemistry, but it doesn't really demonstrate anything meaningful about volcanoes. In fact, I remember being very SURPRISED at how slow lava flows, due to the misconception I had from those vinegar volcanoes. As a kid I always envisioned a deluge of lava cascading down as quick as a tidal wave.

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A book we absolutely love here is The Secrets of Vesuvius - it's part history, part earth science, and a big helping of forensic anthropology. It's written by forensic anthropologist Sara Bisel who studied the Roman skeletons they found at Herculaneum. She tells the real story of how she found out what she did about their lives, and also tells an imagined story about what the last couple of days of their lives might have been like.

 

It also talks about the earth science of the explosion and how and why Herculaneum fared differently than Pompeii (Pompeii was covered by ash - Herculaneum by the pyroclastic flow). Anyway, a very engaging read on many levels. I read it to the kids in 1st grade, and we just read it again as we revisit the Romans (but it would also be great for a volcano study).

 

And I'll second the Build Your Own Volcano site someone else linked. That is awesome! My kids had so much fun with that. And yes, the Vesuvius-style eruption complete with pyroclastic flow is the most fun. :tongue_smilie:

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The baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano really kind of annoys me. It's a nice little project in order to learn something about chemistry, but it doesn't really demonstrate anything meaningful about volcanoes. In fact, I remember being very SURPRISED at how slow lava flows, due to the misconception I had from those vinegar volcanoes.

 

Part of the fun from that is to realize how wrong the experiment is when it comes to the real thing. My sons really enjoyed how lava looks in water as it grows and cools (like really strange bubbles) and one of them now goes around describing pyroclastic flows in detail to anyone who will hold still and listen.

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