Earth and Space Sciences with unexpected volcanoes

I spent this morning at a family day at University of Washington Earth and Space Sciences with my family and some friends.

The day was probably a little advanced for my kids to take in but there were fun things to do and the type of activity that might stick in their minds as to why science is fun: heat cameras, temperature scales, getting to watch and eat instant ice cream (made with liquid nitrogen), playing with soil and rocks, seeing homemade rockets, lightning in the lab, and lots of other stuff. All in all a great morning for the children and (probably) a wise investment in getting kids into STEM subjects.

The end of the morning was a mock volcano. After discussing what debris travels furthest from a volcano and setting up an experiment in the demo by adding pingpong balls, popcorn, and unshelled peanuts – they added the drinks container of liquid nitrogen to the “volcano” and stood back to wait for the it to blow up and scatter the debris – this is what happened next.

It’s fun to watch in itself but the instinct to turn the accident it into a teaching moment is fantastic.

Please note I don’t know who the Vulcanologist is question was or whether she or one of her colleagues made the connection to Mount St. Helens. This is posted as a public event I recorded and is in no way endorsed by the University of Washington. I’m happy to remove the video if ESS or UW would like it taken down – either way please note that without their consent this video is NOT currently available under an open licence.


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