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Lava Lamps

Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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Lava Lamps

Learners observe working lava lamps to understand how they work (included in PDF link). Learners discover that liquids may not be miscible, or won't mix together, because of differences in their molecular structures. They also learn that temperature can affect the density of liquids.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Exhibit


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Plexiglas shield (general storage)
  • One lava lamp
  • Electrical outlet
  • Display sign


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, ©1997

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation