Project LAVA - teachers on an active volcano

20 December 2001

Ever wondered what your teacher does in the school holidays? How about living on the world's most active volcano for a week.

Primary and secondary school teachers across Australia are experiencing the thrill of living on Kilauea, on the island of Hawaii, learning first hand about active volcanos to pass on to their students.

Bringing volcanoes alive for their students is difficult for those teachers who have not seen, smelt, heard or felt an eruption. Being able to describe the heat, the smell of sulfur and the rumble of volcanic tremors make for exciting and rewarding classroom experiences. However, here in Australia we can't just get into the car and drive to our nearest active volcano, as there are none on the Australian mainland.

Hawaiian volcano expert Janet Babb created the professional development course called Project LAVA, Learning About Volcanic Activity. In association with Geoscience Australia, Janet runs an Aussie version for Australian teachers. The course is open to all primary and secondary teachers who are interested in volcanos and teaching about volcanos.

For six days during the third term school holidays teachers live in shared accommodation perched on the rim of Kilauea's summit crater looking at the eruption history of the volcano and its features such as craters, cones and volcanic bombs. Teachers must attend lessons just like their students and participate in practical activities including a road trip around the island to visit older volcanos and collect volcanic materials to take back to Australia.

Project LAVA coordinator at Geoscience Australia, Cindy Hann, said that there is nothing quite like watching the red glow of molten lava cascading into the ocean at night.

"Teachers who attend Project LAVA come away with a wonderful experience, a lot of knowledge and the enthusiasm to share that with their students," said Ms Hann.

In 2002 Geoscience Australia and the Australian Science Teachers Association are giving one primary and one secondary teacher the chance to win a place on the next Project LAVA course. To win the prize, valued at over $2000 each place, teachers must come up with the most original activity for teaching volcanos to students.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013