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Lava Lamp Engineer


Lava Lamp Engineer

By Adventure Science Center

Ready for a far out family project? Get ready to feel groovy with your little scientist as you craft your own lava lamp using things you probably already have around the house!


  • Reaction
    (noun) chemical transformation or change : the action between atoms or molecules to form one or more new substances.
  • Mixture
    (noun) two or more substances that are mixed together but not chemically combined and that may vary in proportion.
  • Polarity
    (noun) attraction toward a particular object or in a specific direction.
  • Evaporating
    (verb) to pass off or cause to pass off into vapor (gas) from a liquid state.


  • Three (3) empty liter bottles
  • Food coloring
  • Vegetable oil
  • Alka seltzer
  • Water


  1. Fill each of your water bottles a little over halfway with your vegetable oil. Then, fill the rest of the bottle with water, leaving about an inch at the top. (Mouthpiece included.)
  2. Add about 10 drops of food coloring to the liquid mixture.
  3. Break your alka seltzer into four pieces, and carefully drop the pieces in one at a time. Wait until the first piece stops bubbling before you drop in the next. If too many pieces go in at once, your solution will become cloudy.
  4. Watch the lava magic happen!

TIP: For a true lava lamp effect, shine a flashlight through the bottom of the bottle and watch the lava glow! You can even store your lava lamp for more fun later! Just place the cap on and store in a safe place. To start the reaction again, just add another alka seltzer tablet.

Further Exploration

Is your scientist’s curiosity bubbling like a lava lamp? Try exploring these questions

  • Does the temperature of the water affect the reaction?
  • Does the size of the bottle affect how many lava bubbles are produced?
  • Does the reaction still occur if the cap is put back on the bottle?
  • Does the size of the alka seltzer piece affect the number of lava bubbles created?




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