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Volcanoes: Nature's
Explosive Spectacles


Volcanoes, with their untamed displays of fire and fury, are surely the most dramatic and least predictable of nature's many spectacles. Education World brings the drama alive with lessons designed to capture students' interest and extend their learning.

Mauna Loa's Most Spectacular Eruption began on June 1, 1950; lasted 23 days; and produced 0.376 cubic kilometers of lava. Words and numbers don't convey the drama of an erupting volcano, though, which probably accounts for the huge volume of online volcano resources. You simply have to see it to believe it!

If you have even a single classroom computer, you'll want to introduce your students to Volcanoes: Can We Predict Volcanic Eruptions? This site, an Annenberg/CPB exhibit, provides fascinating information and interactive activities that help students better understand the forces that cause volcanic eruptions and the difficulty of predicting them. Explore it together, if possible, before you begin your volcanic unit!

In addition, VolcanoWorld and are excellent sources of general background information for both teachers and students. Both sites provide lists and links to lots of hands-on and online activities. Even if time and technology resources are limited, your students should be able to complete most of the volcano activities below! Click on any title to link to the detailed lesson plan.

The Largest Volcano on Earth
Students create time lines of two major Mauna Loa eruptions and use the information to determine what happens during a typical volcanic eruption.

Rock My World
Students conduct a hands-on experiment demonstrating the formation of continents and continental drift.

What's the Risk?
Students determine the risk that a damaging mudflow will occur in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

What Happened?
Students explore legends people created to explain the phenomena of volcanoes -- and write their own legends about volcanoes.

The Parts of a Volcano
Students match each part of a volcano to its definition, then use what they learn to label a diagram of a volcano.

Where in the World Is That Volcano?
Students locate active volcanoes on a world map.

Where Am I?
Students identify volcano locations by latitude and longitude.

Graph a Volcano
Students create bar graphs showing the relative volume of eruptions listed in a table.

A Volcanic Crossword Puzzle
Students solve a crossword puzzle about volcanoes.

Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World


Originally published 6/26/2000
Last updated 10/30/2014