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Volcanic Venus

29 August, 2011

The next planet we are studying in astronomy is, naturally, Venus. Venus is hot. About twice as hot as a hot oven. It is also, apparently, quite volcanic, although how we can know for sure when the clouds around Venus are so thick we can’t actually see the surface, I just don’t know. Maybe we’ll learn that this week.

Quite early in this lesson (the lesson taking 1-3 weeks) we had an “activity”. In this activity we were making volcanoes.

This pile of buttery, floury goodness is not a recipe gone wrong. This is a replica volcano. The butter represents the molten lava and the flour the earth.

This is the volcano after the molten lava has cooled (and there was a minor earthquake). The butter has hardened, just like lava.

Except… well I just wasn’t satisfied with only ONE volcano activity. Especially when there are others we can do with ingredients we have at home.

Enter Fizz. Since we went to the Slime Show a few weekends ago, I had been meaning to do this at home. We’d done bi-carb and vinegar reactions before, but not with food colouring and washing up liquid.

The food colouring didn’t make as much of a difference as we thought it ought to. The washing up liquid traps the gas bubbles created during the reaction for a longer lasting and bigger reaction.

So we’ve seen that molten rock pours out and hardens. We’ve recreated a volcanic erruption. But what about volcanic rock?

This wet, sloppy pile of… something interesting… is actually quite delicious. Who wouldn’t like volcanic rock you can eat?

It’s hard to see in a photo, especially one that is out of focus, but the boiled sugar of the honeycomb traps the air bubbles caused by the chemical reaction, recreating the air bubbles found in pumice stone, and other volcanic rock.

Who ever knew Venus could be so much fun?

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