Lava Lamp Fireworks

How I wish the lovely blogging Rashmie from Mommy Labs was my neighbor. I’d be knocking on her door for play dates all the time… for the kids and for me. Besides her incredibly creative ideas and inspiring  stories, she makes every activity seem like a complete joy. Alas, she lives half a world away, in India so I can’t just drop by but I’m grateful for the brilliance she generously shares online.

Four Friends
We’ve gone from art projects to science experiments with our lovely neighbor friends. These kids still love to paint but chemical reactions get them even more excited

Mesmerized by the photos and description of her Diwali Homemade Fireworks Display and thinking of 4th of July coming up, I finally picked up some Alka-Seltzer and decided to give this experiment a try. No, I didn’t have heartburn or acid reflux to take care of before doing a science experiment with four kids ages 3 to 6, Alka-Seltzer is the “activator” necessary to make this magic happen.

In addition to those magic fizzy tabs (any brand will do), all you need is some clear glass or plastic bottles, oil (the type is up to you but the cheaper the better since it won’t be usable after this), food coloring, and water. A funnel is helpful too. Use approximately one part water to two parts oil (look at Rashmie’s post for the right ratio, not mine, I was cheap with the oil) and anywhere from 3 to 5 drops of food coloring (more is fine… and actually a must if you are 6 or younger so I learned).

Setting up for Lava Lamp Experiment
Lava Lamp experiment

Setting things up was half the fun. Watching how the water plunged into the oil, creating golden bubbles of all sizes was thrilling before it separated then settled at the bottom. Droplets of food coloring were equally interesting to watch suspended in the oil and eventually sinking and dispersing into and coloring the water. It was hard impossible to get the kids to only add a couple drops and once they got the idea to mix colors, the food coloring was flowing freely. Oh well… another variable to experiment with. I tried to teach them about the Scientific Method along the way (Remember? Hypothesis… Experimentation… etc.) but was only able to get the most focused girl to write “Hypothe…” then it was all about the Alka-Seltzer or “Alka-Sod” as my dear William kept calling it.

William watcing Blue Lava

I had envisioned starting with a small piece of tablet then increasing the amount to observe the reaction as it changed… um, yeah right. It doesn’t work like that when you’re 6 or younger. “More Alka-Sod! More Alka-Sod!” they yelled. I could hardly open the packets quickly enough for their ravenous scientific hunger.

Orange Lava Lamp
Green Lava Lamp
This is the color you will get with a LOT of green and a LOT of blue
Dark Lava Lamp
…and this is the color you get if you add a LOT of red, blue, and green drops when Mom isn’t looking

I doubt any of them could tell you about the Scientific Method but they can certainly explain the exciting fizz of “Alka-Sod.”

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