Science Activity for Kids: Lemon Volcano

Now what kid (or adult for that matter) can resist an oozing, colorful, erupting, oh and did I mention aromatic science activity? That’s right today we are making Lemon Volcanoes!

Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

Today’s post is part of a STEAM Summer Camp series; today’s topic is SMELL. While Lemon Volcanoes are indirectly related to smell, it’s not the primary focus of the project, they certainly are one of the nicest smelling volcanoes we’ve ever played with! It makes for an extra special sensory experience.

The best smelling volcanoes EVER!Click To Tweet
Before we get started let me offer a quick disclaimer- these are not giant volcanic eruptions but rather bubbly small eruptions you can make harnessing the chemical reaction of citric acid, found in citrus fruits, and baking soda. Agitating the reaction by stirring it creates for frothy fun!

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Science Activity: Lemon Volcanoes

Materials

Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

  • Lemons I recommend 2 lemons per volcano
  • Baking Soda
  • Liquid Watercolors/ Food Coloring
  • Craft Stick
  • Dish soap
  • Tray
  • Cup & Spoons

Instructions

Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

You can do this experiment using a cored lemon or an open faced lemon or both!

  • Step One (Adults only) Prep your lemon by slicing the bottom off to make them sit flat. Flip the lemon over and slice out the core. If you are making an open faced volcano, slice the lemon in half.
  • Step Two Prepare extra lemon juice by slicing a second lemon in half and juicing it. Pour juice into a cup and set aside.
  • Step Three Place your cored lemon on a tray. Use your craft stick to mush the center of the lemon and bring out the juices. Be sure to keep the juice in the lemon!
  • Step Four Place a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors (do not dilute) in the center of the lemon.
  • Step Five Add in a good squeeze of dish soap to the lemon. This is not necessary but causes the bubbles to ooze and froth more and longer.
  • Step Six Add a spoonful of baking soda into the lemon. It should start to fizz. Take your craft stick and stir the lemon and lemon juice. It should start foaming really well as you stir it!
  • Step Seven To keep the reaction going alternatively add more baking soda, coloring, dish soap and the reserved lemon juice to the reaction. Squeezing the lemon to release the juices also enhances the reaction. Or if you are like my kids, just stick your whole hand in there and give it a good squeeze…ha!

Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

Bonus

  • Did you know that citric acid is also found in drink mixes like Kool Aid? You can alternatively watch this chemical reaction by mixing powdered Kool-Aid and baking soda in a cup, then adding water.
  • Make your own fizzy drink by mixing baking soda into your next batch of homemade lemonade!

Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

The Science Behind Lemon Volcanoes

Lemon juice contains citric acid which when mixed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) reacts to form carbon dioxide and sodium citrate, which causes the liquid to fizz and bubble. Citric acid is a common food additive used in soft drinks as a preservative and flavoring.Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

Looks Like

Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley was an 18th century jack-of-all-trades: a clergyman, educator, and chemist to name a few. He is credited with inventing soda water, water in which carbon dioxide is dissolved causing it to be effervescent or bubbly. Mr. Priestley published a pamphlet about his discovery and his invention was later used by J.J. Schweppes in his company Schweppes to mass produce carbonated beverages. Ponder Mr. Priestley the next time you crack open a Coke or sip on gin and tonic (adults only!). Mr. Priestley also studied optics, wrote a history of electricity in which he performed experiments by his friend Benjamin Franklin, and later helped another friend found the Unitarian church. No, he wasn’t very busy….ahem….and those just a FEW of his exploits! You have to read all about his illustrious career here.

So what do you think about this easy science activity?

Did you know lemons contain citric acid? Did you know about the reaction between citric acid and baking soda? Have you ever smelled a volcano this good?
Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

Are you ready for more amazing STEAM “SMELL” projects?

Check these out:

Left Brain CraftBrain – How What We See Changes What We Smell

One Time Through Spicy Process Art and Math

What Do We Do All Day – Scented Milk Carton Candles  

Little Bins for Little Hands – Citrus Chemical Reactions


More Science Activity Ideas:

20 Science Experiments for Kids. Many of these would be perfect for the science fair!


Fill your child’s life with more art, design, and science:

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Try this easy science activity for kids: make lemon volcanoes and watch the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda.

 

Comments

  1. Babam456 says

    This left me thinking….. What if I saved a bottle rocket from the 4-th Of July, cut a 1/2 inch hole in the top of the lemon, put about 30 air soft bb’s in the lemon, and stuck the rocket fuse end up and lit it!

    #LEMONGRENADE

  2. Jacqueline says

    I love this!! We are doing this during Spring break with our members at Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Blanca!!! So excited

  3. SHRISTI YADAV says

    ANA MAM I REALLY LIKED THIS.
    BUT I WANT TO ASK THAT IS IT NECESSARY TO PUT VINEGAR INSTEAD OF DISH WASHING SOAP ..
    AND BY THE WAY THANKS FOR GIVING UR THIS INFORMATION …..

  4. says

    My six year old and I just tried this and had SO much fun! Thank you for a fun experiment that’s safe and doesn’t smell like vinegar! I’ll definitely be back for more ideas, Thanks for the fun!!

  5. yazzman says

    thanks so much I did this for an assignment and I got an A it was fun even for a thirteen year old then my sister joined in I will be doing this again

  6. Sarah Jane Little says

    Hi Ana,
    Is ‘dish soap’, dish washing liquid or something else?

    can’t wait to try this.

    Cheers Sarah Jane (NZ)

  7. satiestar says

    I had my kindergarten students do this activity today at summer school. It was fantastic! The reaction produced much more “lava” than I expected. We didn’t need the addition of soap. I did bring vinegar as a back up in case the lemons flopped for some reason. We used the vinegar to extend the activity to snack time 😉 What a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing!

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