Celebrate the Moon Landing, Fizzy Moon Rock Style!

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My 5.5-yr old brought home one of the coolest activities from school a few months ago: Erupting Moon Rocks.  Why so cool?  Keep young kids entertained with Fizzy Moon Rocks. Good for ages 2 - 8.

First, it’s about space: one of our family’s favorite subjects. (It really is.  We named our oldest after an astronaut, his room is all space-y, and – so-far – he loves space as much as his father and I do.)  Second, anything that fizzes or erupts is pretty darn cool, in my book.  When I saw it, I knew that we would have to try it out ourselves when the weather got warm.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin left this bootprint in the lunar soil at Tranquillity Base, July 20, 1969. According to the Air and Space Museum, the impression demonstrates the fineness and cohesiveness of the lunar soil.  Maybe something like baking soda??? Image Credit: NASA
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin left this bootprint in the lunar soil at Tranquillity Base, July 20, 1969. According to the Air and Space Museum, the impression demonstrates the fineness and cohesiveness of the lunar soil. Maybe something like baking soda???
Image Credit: NASA

A few weeks ago, a trifecta of circumstances occurred. First, the weather finally got warm. Second, each of the kids had a friend over. I needed a fun and novel activity that both the big and little kids would enjoy.  Third, I miraculously had ALL of the required ingredients.  (Really, the glitter was the only one I had make an effort to get.  I do my best to keep glitter out of our house unless it is VERY FIRMLY and PERMANENTLY glued to something.)  And for those of you reading this now, you can add a fourth reason to do this: the anniversary of the first manned moon landing is coming up! July 20, 1969 is the big day – so start planning your space activities now.

The sample moon rock sent home from school conveniently included a short description of how to do this at home. So, here is what you need:

  • Lots of baking soda
  • Glitter
  • Water
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint (optional)
  • Vinegar

The instructions are pretty simple and this seemed to be good for a range of ages.  The 5.5 and 2.5 year olds all had fun, each in their own way.

I love these little vials of glitter!
I love these little vials of glitter!

Step 1. Pour a bunch of baking soda into a container.  I gave each kid their own plastic box to mix in.

Step 2. Add as much glitter as you want/can stand.  I found a multi-colored package of little vials of glitter that were just perfect for this activity. Each kid chose three colors, dumped them in, and mixed it up.

Getting your hands messy is half the fun of this activity!
Getting your hands messy is half the fun of this activity!

Step 3. Stir in enough water to make the baking soda stick together when you play with it with your hands.  Too much and it’s soupy; too little and the mixture is too dry.  To make it easier for the kids to add the right amount of water on their own, I filled squirt bottles up for them.  We used both spoons and our hands to mix.  They all did really well, save for my own 2.5 year old.  She decided she would much rather make sparkly soup, so that’s what she did.

Here is a close-up view of pieces of breccia from the Moon, courtesy of http://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2013/NASA-Moon-rocks.aspx.  The moon rock my oldest brought home from school looked remarkably like these!
Here is a close-up view of pieces of breccia from the Moon, courtesy of http://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2013/NASA-Moon-rocks.aspx. The moon rock my oldest brought home from school looked remarkably like these!

This is also the step where you add the food coloring, if you want. To make them really look like moon rocks, add enough black/blue so that it looks gray.  (With the glitter, this really does look neat.)  Our crew decided to do their own thing, of course.  We ended up with blue, green, and pink moon rocks.  I used liquid watercolors (and not very much!), because I was worried the food coloring might stain clothing.

Finished moon rock mix, all ready to shape into moon rocks!
Finished moon rock mix, all ready to shape into moon rocks!

Step 4.  Play.  The mixture is a great texture at this point — kind of like a very fine, barely wet sand.  The kids played with it for a while, then wanted to get on with the erupting part.  In theory, this is the step where you form the mixture into rocks. We did that a little bit, but really — the kids just wanted to see it fizz, so on to Step 5…

Pouring the vinegar on our moon rocks!  We loved how they bubbled and fizzed.
Pouring the vinegar on our moon rocks! We loved how they bubbled and fizzed.

Step 5. Pour on the vinegar!  We put the rocks we had made on the driveway and squirted vinegar to see the fizzing & erupting.  As with the water, I chose to fill squirt bottles with the vinegar. This made it easier for kids to get the vinegar in the right spot and helped prevent dumping the vinegar all over.

Forget about the moon rocks -- let's just see the baking soda fizz!
Forget about the moon rocks — let’s just see the baking soda fizz!

Eventually, the kids were just squirting the vinegar directly in the containers.  The activity held my 2.5 year old’s activity the longest. Long after the other kids were done, she was still having fun pouring all of the containers together and then dumping it all on the ground.  I had a very sparkly driveway after that!

Cleanup was really pretty easy — with all that baking soda and vinegar everything ended up VERY clean.  And the latest rainstorm took care of the sparkly driveway!

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6 comments

  1. Cole says:

    This looks like such a fun activity! My daughter loves doing kitchen experiments, I bet she’d love this one too!

  2. lacicarlson says:

    Yay !! So glad I found this me and my kids love stuff like this especially when I have everything at home already !! We are doing this this week !! :)

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