Fizzy, Fun Preschool Science Activity (Part 3: Alka Seltzer Lava Lamp)


Part 3 of my Fizzy, Fun Preschool Science Activity Series is at least as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids!  In case you missed my first two posts, Part 1 was Fizzing Sidewalk Paint and Part 2 was Fizzing Lemonade.  Part 3 (today's post!) is so much fun and so simple, that you might just have to do it a few days in a row!  I first discovered it on SLSmith's blog, and have loved it ever since.

So, just how do you make an Alka Seltzer Lava Lamp?  Help your kiddos...
  1. Fill a vase (glass water bottles look cool too!) about 2/3 full with oil.
  2. Add water until the vase only has 1-2 inches of air space left at the top.
  3. Add 5 drops of food coloring.
  4. Add Alka Seltzer (or the store brand version), 1/4 tablet at a time.  When the bubbles slow down, add another 1/4 tablet.  
  5. Experiment with any other additions you like.  My kiddos were particularly interested in sugar, salt, and teddy grahams.  I'll let you find your own experiments, but I'll tell you this...salt is more interesting than teddy grahams!
Check out this "action shot"...they just couldn't stay sitting down!


So, what's going on here?  I know you probably don't really care why Alka Seltzer makes bubbles, but since your kids will ask, I thought I'd give you something to work with!  Two of the ingredients in the Alka Seltzer tablet include sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) and citric acid.  When the tablet is dissolved, the ingredients mix together and carbon dioxide (bubbles) is released.  The bubbles mix the oil and colored water, which would otherwise remain separated.

Of course, my explanation for the kids came after the gasps and "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" and sounded more like, "The Alka Seltzer reacts to make the bubbles.  Carbon dioxide bubbles.  The bubbles stir the oil and colored water together."  And that's when Kaia asked if she could add sugar.

6 comments:

MaryAnne October 18, 2011 at 5:19 PM  

What a fun, visual science activity!

Jansen Family October 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

MaryAnne, We had so much fun with this one!

Carla

Alicia@ Mommy Delicious October 19, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

Oooohhh, this looks so cool. I'm going to have to try it one weekend with my son!

Marina October 20, 2011 at 7:21 AM  

Wow, this looks great! :)

Jansen Family October 20, 2011 at 8:15 AM  

Alicia, I bet he'll love it! My kids especially loved watching the bubbles start up after they added the Alka Seltzer!

Thanks, Marina!

Carla

Christina McComb February 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM  

I work as a substtute preschool teacher. We have to do a science project. so I figured we would try this thank you for a great idea.