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Fun Cave Diorama

Studying geology or caves? Studying up on Mammoth Cave or Carlsbad Caverns … even taking a trip there? Here’s a great activity for creating an interesting diorama of a cave. While building your diorama, you also learn how caves are formed.


Pencil or crayons
Old shoe box minus the lid
Aluminum foil
2 glasses
2 pieces of cotton string
Hot water
Washing soda (available at your grocery store)


1. Draw a cave background on the inside bottom of the shoe box. Be creative.

2. Line the outside and inside walls of the box with aluminum foil.

3. Turn the box on one long side. Make sure that you picture on the side bottom is facing the correct way.

4. Poke two holes close together near each end of the top of the box.

5. Place a glass outside the box at each short end.

6. Thread each string in through one hole and out the other end, from one end of the box to the other. The strings should be long enough to hang down slightly from the inside top of the box and reach the bottom of each glass. Do not set the string down in the glasses yet.

7. Fill the glasses with hot water.

8. Stir washing soda into the glasses until no more soda will dissolve.

9. Now you can place the strings into the glasses.

10. Leave the box for a few days in a dry place where it will not be disturbed.

What happens? The string acts like a wick (the string part of a candle) and draws the washing soda and water mixture. The mixture drips down the string and hardens as the water evaporates. These crystal formations look like stalagmites and stalagtites in caves.

Fun Fact: Spelunkers are people who explore caves. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico are two of the largest cave systems in the world. You can check out their websites through the National Park Service at http://www.nps.gov/


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