Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Earthquakes for Kids

Fact-heavy site could shake things up with more kid-friendly design
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Design is adequate though not terribly kid friendly.
  • List of recent earthquakes is updated daily.
  • An ABC for kids is meant to help but can be somewhat disturbing.
  • There's a lot of reading material with some helpful diagrams.
  • Ask-A-Geologist allows kids to send questions to a real scientist.
Pros
The information is official and detailed, and the site is up to date.
Cons
Young kids won't get a lot from exploring the site on their own.
Bottom Line
Lots of great earthquake facts and data to be found, but most of it needs to be filtered through an adult.
Polly Conway
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Unfortunately, this dry collection of earthquake-related links doesn't offer much in the way of fun. Design is haphazard and not very kid friendly, though some off-site games and quizzes are okay. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Most of the content on the site is best translated through a teacher or parent; as kids become informed about earthquake safety, they'll feel more empowered when an actual earthquake occurs. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Many links go directly to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) site or other earthquake-related resources. Site doesn't offer a lot of help, however.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

This site is best used as a resource to pull information from; there's not a ton of stuff that students can actually do here. You can show very young students the Earthquake ABC. You can also ask them to create their own drawings about either earthquake-related issues or major weather events that may become more frequent in the future.

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What's It Like?

Earthquakes for Kids is a website from the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) that offers lots of earthquake-related information, links, and activities. The home page features 16 different clickable icons, including Latest Quakes, Puzzles and Games, Become an Earthquake Scientist, and more. Some of these, like the Earthquake ABC, are kid-friendly, while others just connect you to the USGS's regular site or other grown-up science resources. Students can watch animations of geological changes that create earthquakes or can complete quizzes on the science of what happens beneath the Earth's crust.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Although there's a ton of information here, it's not very kid-friendly. The site is ultimately a collection of links; some go to other parts of the USGS site, and others go to various earthquake resources across the Internet. Some of its information is rather bleak, which may make students uneasy. A kid-drawn Earthquake Alphabet is informative but a little disturbing -- the letter K stands for kill and is accompanied by a drawing of people losing their lives in earthquakes. While this is a reality and shouldn't be ignored, the site doesn't offer much follow-up on how to address students' fears.

The science fair ideas are solid, and a teacher could present a guided lesson using the Latest Quakes map or Animations. The site isn't designed for student use, but teachers can still find lots to share with their students here. Ask-A-Geologist is a good resource with one flaw: Although kids can email an actual geologist with any question, the scientists' responses go directly to the asker. It would be great if some of the best question-and-answer sets were posted on the site for other students to read and learn from. 

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