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Get Into the Flow With
An Interactive Volcano


  • Arts & Humanities
  • Science
    --Physical Science
    ----Earth Science


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Working in small groups, students research the structural elements of a volcano and type 5 facts onto a PowerPoint slide. With adult help, groups then combine their slides into a slideshow, and make an interactive table of contents using a volcano diagram and PowerPoint's Action Buttons.


Students will:

  • Identify 5 facts about one structural element of a volcano.
  • Work efficiently in a group.
  • Share their information with the class in a group project.


volcano, earth science, PowerPoint, Action Buttons

Materials Needed

  • Three or four computers with Internet access
  • Three or four computers with PowerPoint
  • A projector or TV monitor to project the final project
  • Index cards (or notebook paper) and pens/pencils

Lesson Plan

Spark interest in volcanoes with this technology-rich science lesson for grades 4-8.

Prior to this lesson, students should be comfortable working in groups, know how to use pre-selected Web sites for research, and be able to create a simple PowerPoint slide (text only). As the teacher, you will need to have basic knowledge about how to use PowerPoint. This lesson uses PowerPoint's Action Buttons feature; if you're unfamiliar with that feature, check out Education World's Create Interactive Maps in PowerPoint techtorial.

Start the lesson by showing students a diagram of a volcano such as Composite Volcano. Explain to students that for the next two days, they will work in groups to learn more about a specific part of a volcano -- such as the vent or fumerole -- and create a PowerPoint slide about what they learn. Then, they'll combine their slides to create a complete PowerPoint slideshow that will include a diagram with buttons that link viewers to specific slides.

Arrange students into groups of three or four, and assign each group a part of a volcano to research. (Use the Web sites provided above for grade-appropriate lists of structural elements.) Students in grade 5, for example, might research vents, lava, sill or magma, while 7th graders might look up secondary cone and lava strata.

Then, guide students through the following steps:

  • Have each group choose a "Techie," a "Notetaker," and a "Timekeeper." The Techie will do the computer work -- including typing and controlling the mouse. The Notetaker will record research results on index cards. The Timekeeper will watch the classroom clock and keep the group on task and on time.
  • Have students log on to the Internet. Tell the Timekeeper to watch the clock. Each group has exactly 15 minutes to complete its research.
  • Tell students to go to the three Web sites below to learn about their assigned volcano part. Have each student write down on index cardsin their own words five facts about their assigned volcano part. Students should use one index card per Web site, and write the site's URL at the top of the card. Remind students to write their names at the top each index card as well. The three volcano sites are:
  • Have students in each group turn in their index cards to be checked. When the facts on the cards are accurate and fairly complete, groups can create their PowerPoint slides
  • Provide groups with the following instructions:
    • Open PowerPoint and ask the Timekeeper watch the clock. The group has 20 minutes to create its slide..
    • Go to Format>Slide Layout, select Bulleted List, and click Apply.
    • In the title box at the top of the slide, type the name of your assigned volcano part.
    • Type five facts about that volcano part, one fact per bullet. Keep it short. No bulleted text should contain more than six words.
    • Have your slide approved and then save it according to the name of your assigned part.
    • If time permits, you also can change the formatting of the slide -- the background, fonts, a volcano image, and so on
  • When each group has completed its slide, combine the slides into a complete PowerPoint presentation according to the directions below.

Follow these steps to complete the PowerPoint slideshow:

  • Move each PowerPoint slide to a single computer. (To do that, you can save them on a disk, USB drive, or on the school network).
  • Open a new PowerPoint presentation on that computer.
  • Make a title slide that says "Volcanos." Include your name, the date, and any other pertinent information.
  • Create a new slide. Copy and paste one of the two diagrams from Composite Volcano.
  • Click Insert > Slides From File and browse for the first student-created slide. Click Insert. Repeat this step until every group's slide has been inserted.
  • Use the Action Button feature (Slide Show > Action Button) to create "hotspots" on Slide #2's volcano diagram, so if you click the crater of a volcano in your PowerPoint presentation, the slide show moves to the slide describing a crater.
    Depending on the age, interest, and skill level of your students, you might want to have a few students create the action buttons instead. If you --or they -- are unsure how to use the Action Buttons feature, see Education World's Create Interactive Maps in PowerPoint techtorial.
  • When the PowerPoint slideshow is complete, test all the action buttons by viewing your show (Slide Show > View Show).
  • Be sure to share the final product with the entire class -- or school).


Students are assessed based upon:

  • Their knowledge of their assigned volcano part, based on their research
  • Their interpersonal skills and time management within the group
  • Their increased understanding of volcanoes following the conclusion of the project

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology