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september 21, 2023


Chicago Public School students conduct explosive experiment on the Museum's front lawn in honor of MSI's 90th anniversary and Pompeii: The Exhibition

WHAT: In a spectacular event today that marked both educational enlightenment and the celebration of the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) 90th anniversary, dozens of students from Bret Harte Elementary School and William P. Gray Elementary School conducted an explosive experiment: erupting nearly 90 baking soda and citric acid volcanoes on MSI's front lawn.

The event aimed to teach the students - grades 1 through 4 - about volcanoes in conjunction with the Museum's latest special exhibit, Pompeii: The Exhibition, which was recently extended by popular demand through January 15, 2024. Pairing this experiment with education about the ancient eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. illustrated how science and history intersect in our understanding of the world, highlighting the importance of science in our everyday lives.

"We were thrilled to have children from Bret Harte Elementary School and William P. Gray Elementary School here at MSI to explore the fascinating world of volcanoes," said Jessica Chavez, Ed.D., Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Vice President of Education and Chief Learning and Community Partnership Officer at MSI. "This event is an example of how we can bring MSI to the community and allow students and their families to see themselves participating in STEM activities outside the Museum's walls. We believe that by sparking curiosity and passion for science at a young age, we can help shape the inventive genius in everyone."

Citric acid and baking soda volcanoes provided the students with an accessible, hands-on learning experience to understand how volcanoes erupt because of building pressure and gas from deep within the Earth's crust. By actively participating in creating and observing the eruption, Museum experts aimed to engage the students' senses and enhance their understanding of scientific concepts through tactile experimentation.

DETAILS: Dozens of students from Bret Harte Elementary School and William P. Gray Elementary School experienced the awe of a homemade volcanic eruption at the Museum of Science and Industry. Led by the Museum's educators, students combined baking soda, citric acid, and water to erupt nearly 90 volcanoes.

VISUALS: Photos from the event are available for download here.
Photo credit: Museum of Science and Industry

Students from Harte and Gray Elementary Schools erupted nearly 90 baking soda and citric acid volcanoes on MSI's front lawn. [Photo: Museum of Science and Industry.]

All photos

About the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences which inspire the inventive genius in everyone. As one of the largest science museums in the world, from groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits to hands-on opportunities — a visit to MSI is guaranteed to connect fun and learning. MSI is committed to offering comprehensive educational programs — for students, teachers, and families — that make a difference in local communities and contribute to MSI’s larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The Museum is grateful for the support of its generous donors and guests, who make its work possible. MSI is also supported in part by the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414.