Jurassic World was brought to life at the Maker Mob event on December 14, 2017! As Project Exploration partnered with Northeastern Illinois University’s (NEIU) GEAR UP Program, the event took place at Kelly High School’s Family Night to expose and bring STEM opportunities to non-traditional neighborhoods and people. After families and partners enjoyed a few slices of warm pizza and cups of sizzling Pepsi in the cafeteria, Project Exploration utilized its facilitators to create and facilitate engaging STEM activities for families and children from all ages. One of the exciting and engaging activities that occurred was the Volcano and Dinosaurs activity. Using clay to cover a beaker, printing and cutting out cartoon dinosaurs, and household chemicals, the activity came to life when the volcano was active. This gave families and children a visual representation of the theoretical explanation of how dinosaurs became extinct due to volcanic activity billions of years ago. Families and children got the opportunity to learn how you can make an erupting volcano using mixtures of household chemicals and seeing a foamy reaction.

Expressions of confusion and interest covered the faces of families and children as they slowly crept up to the table with a sign that read “Volcanos & Dinosaurs.” With a quick introduction of how real life volcanoes erupt and the history of dinosaurs, the faces of the young kids turned to excitement as they watched an example volcano erupt after seeing the foamy reaction of mixing vinegar and baking soda. Soon after, parents and their children were putting on gloves, mixing the chemicals, and watching the eruption occur! One child mentioned, “There are volcanoes in Mexico too!” It was great to see how she was able to recognize this real-life concept and apply it to the real world. More and more families started to come to the table to see why people were screaming with excitement and surprise. The activity was so crowded and successful, the extra materials brought to the event were used and eventually ran out.

Just like a real volcano, the foamy reaction was spreading everywhere and got messy. But thanks to Lysol wipes and paper napkins, it helped everyone clean up afterward. Every family and child got to learn how real science in volcanoes creates a reaction of chemistry causing it to erupt. A special thank you to the high school volunteers from GEAR UP who assisted the facilitators of Project Exploration with these activities too.

Written By: Adrian Villarreal

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