Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 14, 2002

Forces of nature

Both my daughters recently completed school projects dealing with the forces of nature.

Katie made a volcano for the science fair at the grade school. She decided it couldn't be just any volcano either. "I want it to be just like when Mt. Vesuvius buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in lava and ash," she said.

"Right," I thought. "This is going to be more complicated than I thought." I kept my mouth shut.

Mariya's project was a bit more abstract. Her assignment for English class was to design something to express who she is. The "something" had to fit into a brown paper grocery bag. She decided that a tornado would be perfect.

"Oh, yeah, that one sounds easy, too," I thought. Again, I kept my mouth shut.

Project 1: A volcano that buries cities

Katie had some good ideas on how to make Mt. Vesuvius.

She gathered rocks from our driveway and we dug sand at a neighbor's to form the volcano around a plastic bottle filled with baking soda. The rocks and sand weren't sticking together very well so we mixed plaster of Paris and slapped it around the bottle to give the volcano some shape.

Then Katie made one-inch by two-inch houses of clay and let them dry. She put them and some tiny cows, pigs, chickens and geese along the sides and at the bottom of the volcano. She let the whole thing dry several hours and then she was ready to pour vinegar mixed with red food coloring into the bottle of baking soda. Voilá! The lava came spilling out of the bottle onto the sand, houses and animals.

"Look, Mom, the houses are buried up to their roofs and the animals are buried just like at Pompeii," Katie exclaimed.

She was right. Out of the dozen or so animals she put in the sand, there were just a few with their tiny heads or legs exposed. Cool! I was amazed myself.

After a bit more tweaking and several sessions at the computer to finish her poster, Katie's project was done.

2: A tornado that fits inside a paper bag

Mariya had some good ideas on how to make her tornado.

We visited a craft shop and she picked out a miniature Bible, a wooden key and tiny plastic roses. The last thing was to find something that could be fashioned into a tornado. She saw a grapevine twisted into a tornado shape so she thought that would work.

When she got her materials home, she quickly typed some things on her computer, printed them, cut them out and tied them to the "tornado."

"What goes around comes around." This was her general theme which she tied at the top of the tornado.

"Treat others as you want to be treated." She drew a lightning bolt to go with this saying.

"Books capture your imagination and captivate your soul." She matched the Bible with this one.

"Knowledge is the key to the universe." She added the wooden key.

"Life is like a rose. You can't have beauty without the thorns." She attached the roses with this verse.

I love it when my kids "just do it" and all I have to do is stand back and be amazed by their creativity. I'm glad I kept my mouth shut.

Katie, left, with her volcano and Mariya, right, with her tornado.

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