As a Californian, my life has been punctuated by earthquakes. My earliest temblor memory is the 1971 Sylmar quake. On that auspicious day I began my first job as a high school graduate. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, my mother lost the house I grew up in. Perhaps the rest of the country wonders why we live here, but at least our quakes deter some from moving here.
Created for the ten-year anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, Life Along the Faultline offers earthquake science, advances in structural engineering, personal perspectives, and a look back to the great San Francisco shake of 1906. Best click for students and teachers is the tiny link to Activities in the lower left-hand corner. I especially liked the "become a human seismometer" experiment.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in charge of helping people before and after a disaster. Their colorful site uses stories, photos, rap music, games, experiments and quizzes to explain earthquakes and earthquake preparedness to elementary students. The entire site is excellent, but if I had to choose my favorite sections I'd pick Earthquake Legends (folklore from around the world), and the experiments listed under "Jess and Sam's Earthquake." FEMA also provides free educational pamphlets and posters if you call or write (sorry, no email orders accepted.)
"We only hear about earthquakes in the news every once in a while, but they are actually an everyday occurrence on our planet. According to the United States Geological Survey, more than three million earthquakes occur every year. That's about 8,000 a day, or one every 11 seconds!" How Stuff Works explains the science of earthquakes in their ten-page site for middle and high school students. Look in the Lots More Information page for links to additional How Stuff Works articles on seismographs and building quake-proof structures.
PBS brings science to life with the use of Flash animations and QuickTime video to explain the how and why of earthquakes. If a still picture is worth a thousand words, how is movie worth? Plenty, because this concise site (only five pages in total) sure explains a lot. Beyond the primary article, three sidebars cover learning from earthquakes, predicting quakes, and engineering quake-resistant buildings. Other chapters at Restless Planet explore volcanoes and tsunamis.
U.S. Geological Survey neatly divides their site into separate sections for kids, grownups and teachers. Kids should visit for the puzzles and games, science fair ideas, and the online activity links. Grownup goodies include virtual earthquake fly-bys and will be of interest to middle and high school students. Teachers will delight in the grade-sorted link directory that spans from kindergarten through college-level.