Sep 10: Make edible pumice

Hokey, pokey, powered by heat, just like Taupō.

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • Have you ever been to a natural hot spring like the one in the top photo? How do you think creeks like this one end up with warm water? Why do you think some creeks might be hot and others cold?
  • At the Nga Awa Puroa geothermal power station, the earth is 60 degrees warm, two shovelfuls deep. Drills reach much further – two and a half kilometres deep – to reach much hotter and more pressurised steam. What do you think the word “geothermal” means? Can you figure it out by looking at the two parts of the word, “geo” and “thermal?”
  • What might have gone wrong in Iceland, where they had “red-hot magma jetting out of the well-heads”? How do you think you’d try to rectify that mistake? How might you try to avoid it happening again?
  • Can you explain in your own words why it has to be a “closed system,” where water is re-injected back into the earth after being tapped into and utilised for its heat energy?
  • Have you heard of the VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) before? If the famous explosions of Tarawera and Vesuvius both registered 5 on the VEI scale, does it surprise you to learn that the eruption that formed the basin that is now Lake Taupo? measured 8? Were you aware that an eruption at Taup? around 1800 years ago caused the Waikato River to run at “200 times its normal rate” and carve out an entirely new route for itself? What would this be like to witness?

Activity: Make Edible Pumice

Hokey-pokey is a lot like pumice, for which Taupō is famous. Both are full of air bubbles and pumice starts out as a hot, frothy substance before it quickly cools. Both are light in weight and light in colour. Make some Taupō-inspired “pumice” for a scientific sweet treat!

You will need:

  • White sugar or castor sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Baking soda
  • A heavy saucepan
  • A spatula
  • Greaseproof paper
  • A flat tray

Step One: Find a hokey pokey recipe such as this one:

Carefully follow the instructions, taking care not to let your hokey pokey burn.

Step Two: Pour your hokey pokey mixture into a greased or paper-lined tin and leave it to cool.

Step Three: If you have any pumice, make sure to take a look at how similar the two are. Enjoy the hokey pokey!

Send us a picture of your edible pumice!