The Volcano Project

So, the date finally dawned when all competitors had to bring in their volcanoes ready to enter my geography competition.  There were three categories, and the competition was open to every student in school:

1) best volcano

2) best eruption

3) best fact sheet

I have to say, that I was in no way prepared for what would follow, and it was a very large learning curve, compounded by my lack of experience, lack of Georgian language, and lack of cultural awareness.  Not to mention the fact that this kind of thing is very rare in Georgia, and the children are not used to such events.

I don’t know what I had expected to be honest, but I guess it would have probably included the words ‘civilised’ and ‘quiet’ and ‘regimented’, but having just been in Britain for a week, I had rather stupidly and naiively forgotten that this was not Britain, it was Georgia, and Georgian children are far more active and loud!!

There was obviously a lot of anticipation, expectation, and throughout the day lots of tears and tantrums.  Georgian children are very competitive when they have put their mind of effort into something, and I think I am now starting to understand that there really are two kinds of Georgian child.  On the one hand, the child who is completely nonplussed, and on the second the child who is overly eager and fiercely determined.  The British child, probably lies somewhere in between.

I was amazed that they had firstly even remembered the competition, since I set the competition about three weeks ago, and was secondly impressed by just how much time and effort had gone into making the volcanoes on the whole.  One group had spent four days making their volcano, which was unexpected since they usually fail to even turn up to lessons with geography homework, so on the plus side, the activity seemed to appeal to those students who are usually less active in class, and who clearly do better with practical activities.

I was pretty scared to be honest.  The idea was to use relatively harmful ingredients for the explosion, such as washing up liquid, vinegar, and soda!!! I had certainly not envisaged dry ice, sparklers, or flames!  Though I applaud the children for their ingenuity and thinking outside of the box.  I was having a health and safety heart attack though, especially as the staff I had asked to assist me had not turned up, which is again, sadly something typical in Georgia, especially as Georgians are spontaneous and things tend to happen at the last minute, which can make logistics tough.  It was entirely my own fault too, because I had not made instructions as clear as perhaps I should have, and I had not envisaged whole classes turning up, rather just the competition entrants, who I thought would stand quietly next to their competition entries!!!! Epic cultural blunder on my part!

But, on the plus side, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it was great to see the excitement and at least a little interest in geography as a subject, even if they didn’t realise it was geography!!

So I’ll upload the videos of the entrants so that you can see, and hopefully run a similar (but more organised!!!) event in your own geography class longer term if you so wish. There are lots of things that I would do differently, and I was really disappointed in myself as a teacher if I am honest, and I hope that I can learn from my mistakes, and become a better teacher in the long run.  But at least the kids had fun, and I hope that they learnt something too!

This was the entry from my 8th grade class, made from paper and cardboard, and using the traditional detergent, soda, and vinegar eruption method:

This one was made by the 7th grade, from plaster, paint, and board, and using a sparkler for the eruption:

The tenth grade volcano, complete with candles, cotton wool, and pump to give the eruption extra height, a lot of effort went into the engineering and creativity of this one:

One of my favourite volcanoes, made by the third grade students, who even memorised all the facts about volcanoes, and probably now know more about volcanoes than my older classes who have spent the entire term studying them!!

I think this one was made from papier mache, and was modelled on Pompeii, with little figures and pictures of things found under the ashes after the eruption.  This one came with a fact sheet too, and had a very nice eruption thanks to the addition of food colouring. This was an effort by the 9th grade.

About four days work went into this one, and it was covered in real trees, and the added effect of dry ice at the bottom of the eruption!  Hadn’t bargained for that, but it was a great effect. Made by 9th Grade.  Sadly, its a short video. Definitely need to invest in a camera and video for the future.

and finally, another volcano, from the third grade:


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
This entry was posted in Britishness, Royal Geographical Society, Teaching and Geography, TLG (Teach and Learn in Georgia) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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