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 Lesson 2
Kamchatka: Just Gushing with Geysers!

Grade Level: 5-10

Estimated Time: Two class periods. One period to introduce geysers and how they work. One class period to have students label and construct a working model of a geyser.

Related Standards

Lesson Objectives:
  1. Students will learn what a geyser is.
  2. Students will learn the parts of a geyser and how it works.
  3. Students will work in pairs to construct a working model of a geyser.
  4. Students will label the parts of their geyser model.
  5. Students will write a brief summary about their geyser experience in their journals.


Located in an isolated and rugged region of Siberia, the Kamchatka Peninsula is home to the Valley of the Geysers. Within the remote, steep canyon-valley topography of the Valley of the Geysers, two hundred geysers--along with numerous hot springs and spouters--truly identify this area as being a hotbed of perpetual and strong volcanic activity.

A geyser, nature's fountain, is a hot spring that spews steam and hot water into the air on a fairly regular and predictable basis. Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park is a geyser that is renowned for keeping a very punctual eruption schedule. For more information on Old Faithful go to the following sites:
  • National Park Service: Old Faithful
  • Nature's "Inside the Hot Zone"
  • Yellowstone Geysers

    In making a geyser, three ingredients are necessary: a plentiful supply of water, a powerful heat source, and specialized plumbing of the geologic--not household--variety. Surface water runoff and or underground aquifers can supply a geyser with water. Volcanic activity deep below the earth's surface provides a geyser with the necessary heat source. Check out Nature for an animated model of the inside of the Earth. Specialized plumbing--cracks or fissures within the earth--allow water to seep and permeate down into crevices to a large subterranean cavern deep within the Earth.

    Inside the cavern are hot rocks that are continuously heated by the volcanic activity below. As the water accumulates within the cavern it comes into contact with the hot rocks and eventually begins to boil and turn into steam. As the bubbles of the steam begin to multiply, the pressure inside the cavern begins to increase too. Eventually, the pressure within the cavern becomes so great that it causes steam and water to gush out of the geyser and high into the air, making a hasty exit through a vent located far above on the surface of the ground.

    • Kamchatka: Siberia's Forbidden Wilderness video
    • A clear plastic 64-ounce fruit juice bottle
    • A heavy duty cutting tool, i.e., self-retracting safety blade knife, exacto knife, small folding hacksaw, multipurpose snips, etc.
    • A funnel that is no taller than 3/4 the height of your bottle
    • Small red and black aquarium-sized rocks
    • A pitcher to hold water
    • Masking tape and markers
    • 1 to 2 yards of 1/4-inch of clear vinyl microtubing that will not kink or crimp
    • A readily available water supply, i.e., laboratory, kitchen, or bathroom sink
    • Composition booklets (journals)

    Procedure (Day One):
    1. Begin a class discussion by asking your students what they know about geysers.
    2. Write their responses on the chalkboard. You may want to organize their responses into categories depending upon the variety and number of responses you receive.
    3. Show Kamchatka video clips on geysers (11:00-16:00). This segment highlights Kamchatka¹s many volcanoes, the Valley of the Geysers, how geysers work, and the importance of volcanoes and geysers to Kamchatka's wildlife.
    4. Using their responses and the video clips as springboards, tell your students to take notes in their journals as you fill in the knowledge gaps by presenting more background on geysers.
    5. End presentation with an announcement about tomorrow's geyser model construction activity.
    Procedure (Day Two):
    1. Group students into pairs.
    2. Distribute activity materials.
    3. Depending on the height of your funnel, cut off enough from the top of your plastic bottle so that the top of the funnel is 1/2 to 1-inch below the height of your bottle.
    4. Cut two to three small notches around the rim of your bottle. The notches should be no wider than the width of the water pitcher's spout.
    5. Place a thin layer of red rocks (magma, the hot stuff) inside the bottom of your bottle.
    6. Place a thin layer of brown or black rocks (crust) on top of the red rocks.
    7. Place your funnel into the bottle so that the wide end rests on top of the rocks and the smaller end points up to the top.
    8. Place one end of the plastic tube into your bottle and underneath the bottom portion of the funnel.
    9. Wrap some of the remaining slack from the tube loosely around the outside of the funnel, leaving the rest of it outside the bottle.
    10. Using your pitcher place the spout into each notch of your bottle and pour water inside the bottle until you reach the top of the funnel. This is to simulate a surface-water fed geyser.
    11. Identify and label with masking tape each part of your geyser.
    12. Take a deep breath and blow into the plastic tube. Result - Your students' hot air will be put to good use as they simulate the heat and pressure necessary to make a geyser gush out water.
    13. Students write in their journals about their geyser model construction activity experience.
    Extension Activities

    For Younger Students
    Using a popular children's tune like This Old Man or another of your choice have your students as a class write new lyrics that describe how a geyser works. Then sing the song as a class. You may also have your students draw a poster of how a geyser works and combine it with the lyrics of the new geyser song.

    For Older Students
    Research and map the major geyser fields of the world. Compare and contrast where some of the larger fields are located in terms of distance from major urban areas. How are the geyser fields being used by the inhabitants who live near them?
    Geysers generate geothermal energy a natural and renewable form of power that can be harnessed to make electricity. Have your students research other renewable sources of energy, i.e., solar, wind, tidal, etc. and discuss how these renewable sources are currently being used and their future applications.

    Assessment Recommendations
    1. Evaluate your students on their ability to construct a working model of a geyser.
    2. Evaluate your students on their ability to accurately identify and label each part of their geyser.
    3. Evaluate the writing and content of your student's journal entries for this lesson and activity.

    PBS Online Sites:

    Nature: Inside the Hot Zone

    Other Online Sites:

    Geysers and the Earth's Plumbing System

    Related National Standards

    This lesson addresses the following national content standards found at
    • Develop an understanding of basic features of the Earth.
    • Develop an understanding of basic Earth processes.
    and the following national science content standards found at
    • Develop an understanding of the structure of the Earth system.
    • Develop an understanding of energy in the Earth system.
    • Develop an understanding of geochemical cycles.

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