Lava Layers

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In this activity (on pages 11-12 of PDF) learners create models of lava layers that have formed on the moon. The model is created by mixing a series of different colored vinegar with baking soda, then using colored play dough to cover wet areas where each color of "lava" erupted. Clear straws are pushed into the thickest part of the finished layers to get a "core sample." Groups can present their findings and a list of questions is provided to guide students to a deeper understanding. The activity is part of a larger curriculum based on a video on DVD, which you can request for free by emailing

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Four 4 oz. paper cups/per group
  • A screw-on bottle cap/per group
  • Pie pan/per group
  • Clear plastic straws
  • Teaspoon
  • Baking soda
  • Measuring cup
  • White vinegar
  • Food coloring (4 colors: red, blue, yellow, green)
  • Play dough (either bought or homemade) in the same 4 colors as food coloring
  • Colored pencils
  • Drawing paper


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics
    • Solar System
      • The Moon
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


Funding Source:

  • NASA