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diy lava pour DIY Lava Flows

Credit: Jeffrey A. Karson

Want to get kids interested in science? Well, DIY Lava Flows are one extreme way to go about it. Earth Magazine reports on the Syracuse University Lava Project:

Picture this: You’re walking across the tree-lined quad of Syracuse University, amid brick and stone buildings, when you happen upon a crowd of people. Crowds on the quad aren’t unusual, but this crowd is unusually diverse — students, professors and even parents with kids. You move a little closer and smell something odd: a blend of sulfur and marshmallows. Then you see it — molten lava pouring down the slope of a parking lot.

This is our brainchild, the Syracuse University (SU) Lava Project — a unique mix of science, art and education that we developed to investigate the physical properties, aesthetics and educational opportunities of creating basaltic lava flows in a controlled— albeit outdoor — laboratory environment.


Chunks of basaltic rock, similar to that found on the seafloor and in Hawaii and Iceland, are melted and poured to produce natural-scale lava flows up to a few meters long. In addition to facilitating scientific experiments that engage faculty and students at SU and volcanologists from other institutions, the project also supports artistic creations and engages the public, providing formal and informal educational opportunities.

In between experiments, we occasionally let kids roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the hot lava. But the main goal of the project is to study basaltic lava.

marshmallows DIY Lava Flows

Credit: Jeffrey A. Karson

Check out the great write-up in Earth Magazine for more information.

flowcrowd DIY Lava Flows

Credit: Jeffrey A. Karson

David Lang

Co-Founder of OpenROV, a community of DIY ocean explorers and makers of low-cost underwater robots. Author of Zero to Maker. And on Twitter!


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