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Thermo and Fluid Dynamics of a Homemade Lava Lamp

Lava lamps are just cool, that's all there is to it. Most everyone has spent at least an hour of their life just staring at a lava lamp. While the experiment outlined here isn't really the same as a commercial lava lamp it does demonstrate many of the important fluid and thermodynamic properties. Most importantly it provides students with an interesting and fun visual demonstration intended to motivate thought about the physics behind the experiment itself.


Dan Miller

Date Accepted: 2009-09-05 Grade Group: High School (9-12) Benchmarks: M1.4.7 M1.4.8 S11.4.4 S12.4.7 Keywords: buoyancy density fluid hydrophobia surface tension thermodynamics lava lamp Microsoft Word: 05_05_09_1.docx PDF Document: 05_05_09_1.pdf