Science Fair  Projects  and Geyser Models

Glassware Geyser Model

Juice Can Geyser Model

Before you start please read these important notes on building a geyser model. 

There are several good ways of making a working model of a geyser. Since most of these methods involve a heat source and pressure, safety is very important. Experiments should be conducted with adult supervision. Care should be taken to conduct these experiments in a lab or an area where there is enough room to stand away from the model. Safety  goggles should be worn by participants who will be near the model. The experiments should be conducted in an area where water spillage can not cause damage. A school lab is the perfect location. If done at home, a good work location in which to do these experiments must be chosen. My children and I have built these models on our patio where we can safely conduct the experiments without incurring the wrath of my wife. A garage workshop can also be a good place. Please be safe and always keep small children away from the experiment area.




A simple model can be constructed using laboratory glassware. Items needed:

  • 250 ml or 500 ml Pyrex flask

  • hot plate or Bunsen burner

  • glass tube 12 to 16" long or a thistle tube

  • rubber stopper that fits snugly in the flask

  • ring stand or flask holder

  • Small Tupperware bowl or strong plastic container

  • plumbers putty

 Fill the flask with water to about 3/4 full. As shown in the photo above, insert the stopper in the flask. Carefully insert the glass tube in the rubber stopper so it so down into the flask  about 3/4 of the way to the bottom. Place the flask on the hot plate or on a ring stand just above a Bunsen burner. Drill a hole in a strong small plastic bowl or Tupperware container. Work the glass tube into the hole in the bowl and place the bowl on a ring stand as shown in the photo above. Plumber's putty can be applied to the bottom of the bowl around the glass tube entry point to keep the bottom of the bowl from leaking. The glass tube should extent up an inch or so into the bowl. The bowl should catch the water from an eruption and also allow the water to flow back into the model.

Fill the bowl until water runs down the tube into the flask. Keep pouring water until the flask and tube is full of water. Do not fill the bowl above the top of the glass tube. Turn the heat on and allow the water to heat up. Observe how long it takes for an eruption to occur. Water should erupt into the air inside the bowl. Observe how the eruption occurs. After the eruption water from the bowl should run back down the tube into the flask. One can design several experiments. How does the length of the glass tube effect the amount of time required for an eruption? What other factors could effect the eruption? 



This model is essentially the same as the glassware model above but with common household items (or at least things your can get at the local hardware) substituted for the more expensive and sometimes harder to come by ( for parents anyway) glassware.

1.Instead of the flask use a can with a screw on lid like the one in the photo. Make sure the can was not used to hold flammable or hazardous material like lantern fuel, or paint thinner. Make sure the can is thoroughly cleaned.

2- Use a A rubber stopper or cork that snuggly fits in the hole and plugs it up. The stopper or cork will need a hole in the middle big enough to fit small copper tubing in. Use the copper tubing instead of the glass tube above.

3- The small copper tubing needs to reach about  3/4 of the depth of the can and need to extend 6 to 10 inches above the can.

4- You will need a Tupperware dish or a plastic tray with sides. Drill a hole the same size as the tubing  in the dish and fit the tubing in it. The dish will ketch the falling water during an eruption. Your can put plumber's putty around the hole to minimize leaks.

5- Like above you will need a Bunsen burner or a hot plate. If you use a Bunsen burner you will need a ring stand. If you use a hot plate you can put the can directly on the hot plate. Be careful though because the can will get hot.

Fill the can 3/4 of the way up with water. Put the cork/ tube in place. Heat it up and wait fot the eruption. Make sure you note how long it takes. This model is not self filling. Once the eruption is over turn off the heat and let the can cool. Then if you want to do the experiment again take the cork out and refill. Be careful. Don't burn yourself. Potholders or potholder gloves are helpful if you need to touch the hot items. The cooks in you family can help you with how to handle the hot can, tube and how to safely us the hotplate.  Remember there is water involved so hot plates need to be chosen careful and handled carefully. I prefer the Bunsen burner but have used hot plates and even a propane stove. I also prefer doing this in a lab or outside on a patio.


wyojones@wyojones .com

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Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 2006[Gregory L. Jones]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/13/06.