What Kids Learn:
In a Lava Lamp STEAM activity, kids learn about density and immiscibility as they see oil and water separate into distinct layers. Adding effervescent tablets causes a chemical reaction, creating bubbles that carry colored water through the oil. They also explore color mixing and practice observation skills, all while having fun and being creative with their lava lamp designs.
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What We Need
- A clear jar with a lid
- Vegetable oil
- Food coloring
- Effervescent tablets (like Alka-Seltzer or antacid tablets)
- Optional materials for decoration or personalization: Glitter, Stickers or adhesive gems
How To Make a Lava Lamp
- Take the empty jar and fill it about one-third of the way with oil.
- Now, fill the rest of the jar with water. Make sure to leave a little bit of space at the top.
- Choose your favorite food coloring and add a few drops into the bottle. Watch how the color sinks through the oil and mixes with the water below.
- Drop one Alka-Seltzer tablet into the jar and close the lid.
- Now, watch the magic happen! Watch what happens inside the bottle. The tablet reacts with the water and creates bubbles. These bubbles rise through the oil, bringing colored water with them. When the bubbles reach the top, they pop, and the colored water sinks back down, just like a lava lamp!
- You can keep adding more pieces of the tablet, one at a time, to keep the lava lamp going and enjoy the bubbly, colorful show.
Variations & Challenges
- Instead of using just one color of food coloring, try using multiple colors. Watch how the colors blend and create new shades as they move through the oil and water.
- Try using antacid tablets (like Alka-Seltzer) that are broken into smaller pieces or crushed. See how the size affect the speed of the bubbles and the overall performance of the lava lamp.
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