Skip to main content


The Lava Project provides an extraordinary educational experience for students at Syracuse University and other programs. With no active volcanoes and virtually no volcanic rocks in New York State, students experience an event normally only possible in places like Hawaii or Iceland. Here are some of the main formal educational experiences to date:

Introductory Earth Sciences Classes: Lava flow demonstrations for lab and recitation sections for 2-300 students per semesters

Click on an image to see an expanded view.


Teaching Assistant Chris Sant leads a lava flow demonstration for a large introductory geology class.
Instructor Dan Curewitz discusses lava flows at a demonstration.

Lava Classes: Projects for ~20 students per year in classes in the Renée Crown Honors Program and joint CAS/VPA classes

Click on an image to see an expanded view.


Student in a Lava Class measuring temperature with a thermocouple.
Students in protective suits work on their Lava Class project.
Bob Wysocki and students with their lava tables at a Lava Class presentation.
Students roasting coffee for their Lava Java project.
Student in a Lava Class displays her cake cooked on a lava flow.
Student project using lava glass for glass blowing project.
Student project involving viscosity study from aspect ratio of lava ‘cow pies'.
Using the FLIR camera to measure the temperature of rhyolite clasts to be immersed in lava.
Lava pours into water tank to investigate submarine ocean island volcanism in a student project.
Measuring fold profiles on a lava flo.
Students in Keck Consortium projects linked field studies of lava flows near the Krafla Caldera in Iceland with experiments in the Syracuse University Lava Project.

As possible the Lava Project offers lava flow demonstrations for local K-12 classes (as well as the general public). Student groups up to about 100 have come to the Comstock Art Building to see real lava- something that is not possible for students who do not live near active volcanoes (e.g., Iceland or Hawaii) or can afford to vacation in these distant places. Volcanoes are among the most dramatic natural phenomena and commonly featured in a wide range of natural sciences classes. Teachers commonly arrange their curricula around the lava flow events and encourage the students to design their own pre-planned or spontaneous experiments. This is an exciting active learning experience that can significantly broaden the horizons of local and regional student groups. The Project commonly offers souvenir pieces of lava flows as a reminder of these events. 


Click on an image to see an expanded view.


Elementary school students experiment with marshmallows at a lava flow event.