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Science By Me Volcano Science: Exploding Volcano! (Dollar Tree)

One thing I really like about Dollar Tree is that the price point encourages people to try new things that they otherwise probably wouldn’t. Sure, some of the stuff is complete junk, but the same can be said for things elsewhere that cost way more than a dollar, so it’s still valid justification. One such example: this little science experiment from Science By Me, which is the perfect size for a stocking (and, sure enough, was on a “stocking stuffer” endcap at our local store).

The little box contains a little plastic toy volcano with a twist top that’s actually pretty cute, vague instructions, and a packet of red-colored baking soda. One thing that stands out to me as a bigtime negative right off the bat: nowhere on the package does it say what other ingredients you’ll need that aren’t included, so I figured maybe everything was in there. Nope. For this one, you will also need malt vinegar (which we didn’t have so we used white), as well as a funnel, which we thankfully did happen to have from our candlemaking days. While I suppose those are fairly common household items, I don’t think I would consider either of them “essential”, so it would be nice if that was stated somewhere on the package.

Another big problem: either we’re morons, or there’s a misprint in the instructions. It clearly states to add 50mL of vinegar to the volcano, which we started to do—only to discover that it started overflowing—and still with a ton of vinegar left to add. So we dumped some of the vinegar out, trying to leave room for the baking soda…and the whole thing erupted before we could even put the lid back on or get set up to watch it. In other words, it was a bona-fide dud. I will say that the look of the lava was pretty cool, coming out like a bright red foam, but it wasn’t very cool that it didn’t work as planned. (Thankfully our son didn’t really care all that much…so much for family time!) (Also, for the record, and based on their other experiment, I think it’s supposed to be 5ml.)

There are a couple other positives: the plastic volcano is made of pretty tough plastic and is therefore reusable, and the experiment only requires vinegar and baking soda (preferably colored red to look like lava), so it can be done again and again, assuming you have those on hand. We kept it so we can try again in the future, but I have to say that right out of the box, we were all pretty disappointed with the end results of this one.

Overall: 3/10. It’s a cool idea done in by a couple of big issues: the package failing to tell you what other ingredients you’ll need that aren’t included in the package (malt vinegar, which we didn’t have so we used white; as well as a funnel), and a misprint in the instructions that tell you to add way too much vinegar. The included volcano is reusable, and the ingredients are easy to source, so we can do it over and over again—and will know how to do it better the next time—but we were really disappointed that an apparently simple, “fun” experiment weren’t really either of those things right out of the box.

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