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USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades (K–6)

This Web site contains selected USGS educational resources that may be useful to educators in primary school grades (Kindergarten to Grade 6). Many of these resources can be used directly in the classroom (see Resource Symbols) or will be useful in classroom lessons or demonstration activities preparation, or as resources for teacher education and curriculum development.
Resource Symbols:

lesson plans - Contains complete teaching module
classroom activities - Contains classroom activities

WWW resources - Digital data or images
cost items - Optionally purchase items


General Biology
Activities, games, coloring pages, projects, and stories that teach younger children about animals, climate change, bee population declines, wild birds, and more. classroom activities
South Florida Kids Page
Learn about the myriad ecosystems in South Florida and the creatures that inhabit them. The site includes coloring pages, games, and summaries of different animal species. classroom activities
Southeast Ecological Science Center Kid's Corner
Short movie clips of amphibians, games & puzzles, wildlife pictures, and coloring sheets related to animals found in the southeast U.S. with an emphasis on Florida. classroom activities
Become a Phenology Observer
The National Phenology Network (sponsored by the USGS) is looking for volunteers to help monitor plant and animal species found across the United States. Learn how to monitor plant and animal phenology and sign up to contribute new observations to the national phenology database. Make this a classroom project! classroom activities

Reptile and Amphibian Coloring Sheets
Individual coloring pages for the threatened Western Pond Turtle, the endangered mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, and the invasive Red-Eared Slider and American Bullfrog.
Frog Call Quiz
Learn the breeding calls of frogs and toads in the eastern United States and Canada.

Dendroica: An Aid to Identifying North American Birds
Multiple photos and sounds for most bird species in North America.
Whooping Cranes
The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been breeding whooping cranes for release to the wild since 1967. This site has extensive information and Frequently Asked Questions about whooping cranes plus videos and a list of recent articles. Be sure to click on the site map to see fascinating photos and information about raising individual chicks. An additional 16-minute video discusses health, exercise, diet, and training of these birds that were once on the brink of extinction.

Lessons on the Lake: An Educator's Guide to the Pontchartrain Basin lesson plans classroom activities
Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Basin is home to 1.5 million people and an estuary ecosystem with enormous biodiversity. Activities in the educator’s guide help students in grades 5-12 gain an understanding and appreciation of the Basin and teaches them the skills to identify environmental concerns, make changes, and solve problems.
Wise Wetland Ways
Teachers use wetland "artifacts" to discuss how people benefit from wetlands (on back side of poster). classroom activities

Bats are a critical species for pollinating plants, distributing fruit seeds, and consuming insects. Learn how the USGS monitors bat populations and listen to bat vocalizations.
Polar Bears
Track polar bears by satellite and learn about their habitat.
Sea Otters
Learn about sea otter basics and follow links to USGS podcasts, a film, a fact sheet, and other information about sea otters.
Read an information sheets about manatees, access photographs, and learn about USGS research on manatees.


General Geography
Helping Your Child Learn Geography
A 32-page booklet, published in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Geographic Society, that is designed to help adults stir children's curiosity about geography. Includes many suggestions for simple activities. K-4.     
Map Adventures
This on-line teacher packet for grades K-3 teaches basic concepts for visualizing objects from different perspectives and how to understand and use maps. The kit includes seven lesson plans, activity sheets, and a printable poster.   
What Do Maps Show?
This on-line teacher packet for upper elementary and junior high school students has four lessons on reading and using maps. The packet includes a teacher's guide, four printable activity sheets, and three maps in PDF format that can be downloaded and printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.   

Topographic Maps
Topographic Map Resources for Teachers
An overall summary of useful USGS resources for working with topographic maps: where to get them; how to interpret them; how to use them; explanations of coordinates, datums, and projections; and lessons for the classroom.
Free Digital USGS Topographic Map Quadrangles
Download free USGS topographic map quadrangles in georeferenced PDF (GeoPDF) format by clicking on "Map Locator" on the USGS Store Web site. These files were created using high-resolution scans and average 10-17 megabytes in size.
27 Ideas for Teaching with Topographic Maps
Contains 27 ideas for teaching with the approximately 57,000 topographic maps that the USGS offers.   
Map Mysteries
Sample questions to use with USGS topographic and thematic maps as starting points to uncover mysteries about the cultural and physical geography of the Earth.
Corn Maze Geography
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography.
Topographic Salad-Tray Model
This basic activity-oriented lesson helps students understand a topographic map by creating a three-dimensional model from contours on a topographic map.   
Finding Your Way with a Map and Compass
A brief description of how to navigate using a compass and topographic maps.  
Map Symbols
An explanation of topographic maps and map symbols.
Topographic Maps Illustrating Physiographic Features
Topographic maps can be used to study a wide range of physical features in the United States. This helps students learn about the geologic evolution of the Nation's natural landscapes and shows how topographic maps reveal more about the land surface than just its shape and elevation. Roam your cursor across maps and images on this online viewer to learn about selected features of the American landscape .   
US Topo: The Next Generation Topographic Map
Do you teach about maps, or do you use them in the classroom? The USGS has developed a new map series called the US Topo. Modeled on the old topographic series, these maps are derived from digital data that allow the entire contiguous U.S. to be remapped every three years. Download free digital US Topo maps through the Map Locator. Download PDF files of historical topographic maps at the same site.

Map Tools
USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
GNIS contains information for almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and its territories. Query the database to find individual features and their corresponding coordinates. Search results include links to on-line air photos and topographic maps containing the feature. GNIS is also a layer of The National Map (above).   Icon for lab resources
Elevations and Distances
Tables of information covering elevations of features and distances between points in the United States. Also locates the geographic center of each state.   

Satellite Images
EROS Satellite Image Resources for the Classroom
USGS Fact with a handy list of educational resources available through our Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS), which manages all USGS satellite imagery.
Tracking Change over Time
Enhance students' learning of geography, map reading, earth science, and problem solving through landscape changes recorded by satellites in space.
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change
Earthshots is an e-book of before-and-after Landsat images (1972-present), showing recent environmental events and introducing the concept of remote sensing. Each set of images includes a detailed description, photographs and maps, a list of references, and a question/answer. Images are best used on-line.
Download free, high-resolution satellite images in georeferenced PDF format, which allows for visual interpretation and comparison without the need for complicated software.
EarthNow! Near-Real Time Satellite Image Viewer
Currently only works in Internet Explorer. What does a satellite see as it passes over our planet? This mesmerizing, near-real time viewer displays data received from the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites as they pass over the United States.
Satellite Image of Your State
Download and print a spectacular free image of your state created by combining satellite imagery with the National Elevation Dataset data.

Thematic Map Resources
A Tapestry of Time and Terrain
One of our prettiest and most useful maps. Topography is woven together with with the geologic age of rocks to create a tapestry of the land surface for the conterminous U.S. A separate pamphlet (PDF) explains the different colors. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper copy.
North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain
This is an expanded version of the above map that includes the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper copy.     
Public Land Surveys Map
A highly detailed paper map showing the growth of territory of the United States from 1776 through 1965; National parks and monuments, national forests, Indian Reservations, National Wildlife Refuge, and Public Lands; and Principal Meridians and Baselines, Townships, and Ranges from the U.S. Public Land Surveys (product #101208). Use this map to teach and learn about how the country grew, and the affect of the Public Land Survey System on the present-day arrangement of roads and cities. Web site includes a link to a list of questions that can be used with the map. This paper product is a cost item that can be purchased through the USGS Store.   
Federal Lands and Indian Reservations - Printable Maps
Maps showing Federal lands and Indian Reservations for the entire U.S. or individual states. Maps print on 8.5"x11" paper.   
Indian Land Areas Paper Maps
Four different paper maps showing Indian Land Areas Judicially Established (product #101505); Indian Land Areas on a planimetric map (product #101502); Indian Land Areas on a colorful shaded relief map (product #101516); and Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks (product #101013). These paper products are cost items that can be purchased through the USGS Store.  
An Emerging Nation Map
A reproduction of a map that shows the United States as it existed about the time the Constitution was written. The original map was produced in 1784 and was the first map of the United States created by an American cartographer. Download a free PDF (24Mb) or purchase a paper copy through the USGS Store.   

Land Use History
Urban Growth in American Cities
An on-line publication that illustrates the spatial history of urban growth in sixteen areas around the U.S. and the corresponding land use change. Images can be downloaded as GIF files.   

Historic Exploration of the United States
Routes of the Principal Explorers Paper Map
Purchase this paper map showing routes of explorers in the contiguous 48 states, 1501-1844. Product #101216.   
The Lewis and Clark Expedition and the USGS
Links to USGS publications and other resources related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Includes resources specifically targeted to teachers and students.   


Geologic Maps
Tapestry of Time and Terrain
Shaded relief and geology are combined on this map of the 48 conterminous states. It is a useful resource for discussing physiographic provinces and for viewing the location of rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a PDF version or purchase a paper wall-size version through the USGS Store. This is one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS.
Geologic Map of North America
Click on "Map Images" (icon that looks like a framed picture) to download a map and explanation sheet for the Geologic Map of North American at different resolutions.

A Brief Introduction to Geomagnetism
The USGS uses ground-based observatories to provide continuous records of the Earth's magnetic field variations. This simplified description uses images and a time-lapse animation to explain phenomena created by the magnetic field that can be easily monitored and studied.
Journey Along a Field Line
A sixteen-page comic book about the Earth's magnetic field. Travel down through the interior of the earth then back up into the ionosphere to learn how the magnetic field works.

Astronomy and Astrogeology
Astrogeology Maps
A good starting point for exploring interesting maps and images of planets and moons, including anaglyphs, Apollo landing panoramas, globes, and mosaics.
Regional Planetary Image Facility
Don't let the name of the website scare you off. The USGS was heavily involved in the Apollo missions; those activities are archived here in the form of fun videos, photos, and online exhibits, along with materials from more recent spacecraft missions.
Construct 3-D Globes
Download, print, and make your own paper globes of planets and moons.

Plate Tectonics
This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics
"This Dynamic Earth" is one of the most recommended and referenced primers on plate tectonics. Topics include a history of the theory, scientific developments that spurred its development, the mechanics of plate motions, and the relationship of hotspots to plate tectonic theory. A companion best-selling map, "This Dynamic Planet", is also available online or in print.   
This Dynamic Planet: A World Map of Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Plate Tectonics
Plate tectonics are fully illustrated on this best-selling world map (a companion to "This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics") showing the locations of plate boundaries, volcanoes, earthquakes, and impact craters. Detailed ocean floor bathymetry and discussions of fundamental components are also featured. A paper version is available for purchase or the map can be downloaded free in PDF format.   
Wegener's Puzzling Evidence Exercise
Students use fossil evidence and other clues to piece together the continents before they drifted apart.
Some Unanswered Questions: What Drives The Plates?
This page from the This Dynamic Planet Web site addresses the processes associated with heat flow and convection in the earth.
The Interior of the Earth
An introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.
How to Build a Model Illustrating Sea-Floor Spreading and Subduction
Print, cut-out, and glue together a three-dimensional paper model that illustrates sea-floor spreading and subduction. Simple diagrams and easy-to-understand explanations of the processes are included.
Plate Tectonics Tennis Ball Globe Model
Print and color a two-dimensional world globe showing plate boundaries, then cut it out and glue it to a tennis ball to create a three-dimensional model. Includes links to teacher resources and questions to ask students.
Major Tectonic Plates of the World
A simple map of the major tectonic plates of the world.

Rocks and Minerals
"Are You a Scientist, Too?" A Primer of Simple Geoscience Activities for K-2 Classrooms
Although written for geoscientists who are visiting classrooms, these very basic activities could easily be led by a teacher or parent.
Schoolyard Geology
Structured activities use man-made features that are found in a typical schoolyard to demonstrate geologic principles.
The Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit
A teacher's guide for hands-on mineral education activities. Designed to meet the National Science Standards, this product includes 10 activity-based learning exercises that educate students on basic geologic concepts; the processes of finding, identifying, and extracting the resources from a mineral deposit; and the uses of minerals. Geared for grades 5-8, this publication defines what a mineral deposit is and how it is identified and measured, how the mineral resources are extracted, and how the mining site is reclaimed; how minerals and mineral resources are processed; and how we use mineral resources in our every day lives.   
Collecting Rocks
Learn about different types of rocks and how to identify and collect them.
Rocks and Minerals
Introductory information about rocks and minerals with a glossary of commonly-used geology terms.
Rocks and Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region
Although this publication is site-specific, it has a nice introductory guide with illustrated descriptions of 46 varieties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Discussions about regional geology, the rock cycle, and mineral resources are included.
Minerals in our Environment
A color poster (approximate dimensions 36 x 60 inches) showing how we use minerals in our everyday life. Download the PDF file and print at full size or page size. A Spanish-language version of this poster is also available.
Mineral Resources: Out of the Ground . . . Into our Daily Lives
A 29 inch x 41 inch poster showing the common usage of mineral resources in our homes, offices, and equipment we use daily. Download a PDF or postscript file to print at full size or page size.
Mineral Use in the Workplace
Find more examples of common uses for minerals.
Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital
Descriptions and examples of the different stones used in the buildings and monuments in the Washington D.C. area, and a discussion of how Washington D.C.'s landmarks have been impacted by acid rain. An abbreviated and updated version of this publication is available as a 2-page fact sheet.
Minerals in Sports
Learn about the amazing materials that go into sports equipment, and the minerals that these materials are derived from!
Gold—Why is gold such an important mineral?
This 23-page booklet gives a brief history of gold mining and the "gold fever" that has endured for centuries of civilizations.
Mineral Commodity Fact Sheets
Two-page, easily-understood fact sheets about important mineral commodities. Learn where each mineral comes from, how it's used, and why it's important
Mineral Resource of the Month
How is a specific mineral used in the United States? How much of that mineral is produced? These questions are answered in this series of two-page articles written for over sixty different minerals.
Do We Take Minerals for Granted?
Did you know that the average automobile contains 42 lbs of copper? Use this site to learn about the everyday use of minerals, minerals and the environment, mineral supplies, and much more. An additional report on Geology and Nonfuel Mineral deposits of the United States is an excellent source of information, page size maps, and illustrations of the geologic processes.

Weathering and Erosion
What's the Difference between Weathering and Erosion?
The difference between weathering and erosion is very briefly explained.
Students use soil and water to demonstrate the effect of rainfall on soil erosion (see back side of poster).
Weathering and Erosion in Desert Environments
Explains how desert climates impact weathering and erosion processes in the Mojave Desert (this activity is on the back side of the poster).

Fossils and Earth History
The Great Ice Age
There is evidence all around about The Great Ice Age and its impact on North America. Learn about the Earth's recent cold past and how to recognize the clues left behind.
Geologic Time
Learn about the age of the Earth and how scientists express these very old ages using relative and radiometric time scales.
The Geologic Time Spiral - A Path to the Past
The centerfold illustration from the popular USGS pamphlet "Geologic Time" is now available as a downloadable poster in both page-size and poster-size resolutions. This diagram is a wonderful representation of the age of the Earth from its creation, through the different geologic eras, and up to the present. Perfect for classroom walls!
Mud Fossils (includes guides and lesson plan)
This Web site is a teaching kit for lower elementary grades (K-3) that includes lesson plans, activities, and other resources for teaching about fossils.   
Fossils, Rocks, and Time
A general overview of geologic time and the use of fossils to determine the age of layers in the earth.
Dinosaurs: Fact and Fiction
This pamphlet contains answers to some frequently asked questions about dinosaurs, with current ideas and evidence to correct some long-lived popular misconceptions. Although much has been discovered recently about dinosaurs, there is still a great deal more to learn about our planet and its ancient inhabitants.
The Geologic Story of the Ocoee River
Use the rocks along the Ocoee River in eastern Tennessee to reconstruct a 750 million year history of the area to the present day.
Geology of the Southern Appalachians
This double-sided map was published in 2008 for classroom and public use. It consists of a geologic map draped over a shaded-relief background, photographs of interesting geologic features, diagrams of tectonic plate movement, and more. A 23-page booklet, Birth of the Mountains: The Geologic Story of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, is a companion product. A Teacher's Guide (designed to go with a film that's no longer available) has 17 suggested activities.
Glimpses of the Ice Age from I-81
This two-page pamphlet describes Ice Age block fields along I-81 in Virginia. Learn where they come from and decide if block fields might exist in your part of the country.

Caverns and Caves
Exploring Caves
Exploring Caves is an interdisciplinary set of materials on caves for grades K-3. Using earth science, hydrology, mapping, biology, and anthropology, the unit provides teachers with detailed lesson plans to explore these rich environments with very young students.   
Paper Model of Karst Topography
Cut out and glue together a three-dimensional model illustrating karst topography.
Karst in the United States
A report with 2014 digital maps delineating areas of the U.S. having karst or the potential for development of karst. Open the Report file and click on Figure 1 to open a separate, high-resolution file of the map (26 Mb; download the file for faster viewing and printing), or view the KML file in appropriate software.

Coastal Environments
Chesapeake Bay Bolide
Explore the extraordinary consequences of a large extraterrestrial body colliding with the Earth in this new research on the Chesapeake Bay bolide. Events like these may have contributed to the demise of dinosaurs.
The Fragile Fringe: A Guide for Teaching about Coastal Wetlands
Includes background information, suggested activities, glossary, references, and reading list. Activities can be demonstrated by the teacher or performed by students. Emphasis is on Gulf Coast wetlands.   
Coastal Erosion (Grade School version or Middle School version)
Moist sand and water are used to demonstrate how different waves affect the movement of sand along the coast (see back side of poster).
Coasts in Crisis
This website describes types of coasts (rocky shores, sandy beaches, coastal wetlands, and coral reefs). It also provides discussion about processes that affect beaches and coastlines including waves, tides, weather, water-level changes, coastal vegetation, and human impacts of beach sediments and processes.

Global Change
Deserts—Geology and Resources
This general interest publication describes how deserts form, types of deserts, and landscape features typically associated with deserts. Learn about desertification as an indicator of climate change.
Global Change
Includes introduction, activities, and teaching guide for topics relating to global change, time, and earth systems. Targeted to grades 4-6.   

Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards Gateway
Provides many links and resources to USGS information related to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and wildfires.  

Earthquake ABC
An ABC book created by children who witnessed an earthquake. It incorporates science, feelings, and preparedness related to this unpredictable and frightening hazard. Parent and teacher guides are included.
Visual Glossary of Earthquake Terms
Not only are earthquake terms explained, but photographs and other images are provided with each entry.
Earthquakes - For Kids
This Web site is rich with facts, information, coloring pages, and activities related to earthquakes. Includes links to teacher resources and much more...   
Bigger Faults Make Bigger Earthquakes
Use string or rope to demonstrate relationships between the length of a fault and the earthquakes that occur along it.
The Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami of March 27, 1964
Explore numerous resources created for the 50th anniversary of the second largest earthquake ever recorded and the tsunami that it created. Watch videos, animations, archival film, and a public lecture; read short fact sheets and summaries; and delve into historical photographs. An interactive "story map" of 1964 Anchorage is an especially good way to engage students.
Earthquake Preparedness
The key to earthquake safety is to be prepared and know what to expect. Use the many resources at this site to teach students how to react when an earthquake occurs. The Great Shakeout Drills website has classroom materials targeted to specific states.
Earthquake Topics
A list of USGS Earthquake websites that teachers and students will find particularly useful. Resources can be browsed by grade level.
A 20-page online booklet that explains the nature and causes of earthquakes. Describes techniques used to detect, record, measure, and predict seismic disturbances.
Earthquake Summary Posters
Download a summary poster showing the details of major earthquakes. These posters are typically released within 24 hours of a major global event and include maps of the earthquake location and its tectonic setting, maps of shaking hazards, and a brief review of the area's earthquake history. A great resource when discussing a specific event in the classroom.

Tsunamis and Earthquakes
An extensive list of links with information about tsunamis, including animations of several tsunamis.
Life of a Tsunami
A very basic explanation of how earthquakes can trigger a tsunami. Includes diagrams.
Surviving a Tsunami—Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan
This on-line publication describes the causes and impacts of large tsunamis, with examples from around the Pacific Rim.
Could It Happen Here? Tsuanmis That Have Struck U.S. Coastlines
A brief review of significant tsunamis that have struck coastlines of the United States and its territories.
FAQs About Tsunamis
Frequently Asked Questions about tsunamis.

Landslide Hazards
A two-page fact sheet with basic information about landslide hazards and safety issues related to wet weather conditions in landslide-prone areas.
Landslide Types and Processes
A basic overview of the different types of landslides. This is a very abridged version of the 129-page USGS Landslide Handbook, which is heavily illustrated.
Riding the Storm
A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides in the San Francisco Bay Area, claiming 25 lives and causing $66 million in property damage. Learn what USGS scientists have discovered in the last two decades about landslide dynamics and which slopes are most susceptible to sliding in this award-winning online documentary.
The Mountain That Moved
Some of the largest prehistoric landslides in the world are located in Montgomery and Craig Counties, VA; one is nearly three miles long! Learn how these giant landslides were discovered and what they tell us about current landslide potential.

Cascade Volcano Resources for Educators
A list of resources that are mostly specific to the Cascades, but could be applied to other volcanic areas.
Map of Current Volcano Activity
The newly revised USGS Volcano Hazards Web site now includes a real-time status map of volcanoes, Quick Links to popular volcano information, and an expanded Resource Page for Educators!
Volcano Photos and Webcams
View and download free photos of volcanoes in the United States.
Photo Glossary of Volcano Terms
Brief descriptions and illustrative photographs of over 60 volcano terms.
Volcanoes (Booklet)
A 45-page online booklet that summarizes basic information about volcanoes – their types, different kinds of eruptions, related features, volcano research, and more.
What are Volcano Hazards?
More than 50 volcanoes in the United States have erupted over the last 200 years. This brief fact sheet explains the hazards that result from these eruptions and how life and property hundreds of miles away from an eruption can be affected.
Geologic Hazards at Volcanoes
Download a pdf file of this 18 inch x 27 inch poster showing a diagram of a cut-away volcano and the various hazards associated with volcanoes either during or between eruptions. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208285.
Regional Volcano Observatories
News and consolidated information about volcanic activity in several regions around the U.S.
Living with a Volcano in your Backyard
Activities address volcanic processes and hazards, community safety, and the impact of volcanoes on our culture and history. These are structured around (but are not limited to!) the Cascade Range volcanoes.
Eruptions in the Cascade Range During the Past 4,000 Years
Download a pdf file of this 20 inch x 24 inch poster showing a timeline of eruptions in the Cascade Range. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208284.
Mount St. Helens Eruption - 30th Anniversary
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Volcano exploded violently, causing the worst volcanic disaster in the history of the U.S. Explore materials about the eruption, including a poster: 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens (free through the USGS Store). Watch a fascinating video in which USGS scientists recount their experiences during the eruption, and see how the eruption has triggered a growth in volcano science and volcano monitoring. View a 3-D Animation of Mount St. Helens following the 1980 eruption.
Alaska Volcanoes Guidebook for Teachers
Over a third of Alaska's 140 volcanoes have been active in the last 300 years. This online-only book covers the tectonic setting, rocks, eruption styles, landforms, community impact, effect on climate, and monitoring of Alaska's volcanoes. Each chapter has 3-4 detailed classroom activities for grades 6-12 and a large amount of supplemental materials. Some lessons can be applied to other locations!!!
Caldera Demonstration Model
What is a caldera and how does it form? In this video, a USGS scientist performs a simple demonstration using flour, a balloon, and bicycle pump that can be also used in the classroom. Explore more USGS information about calderas here.
Eruptions of Hawaii's Volcanoes--Past, Present, and Future
Updated (2010), online version of a 63-page booklet written for the general public. Focuses on the eruptive history, style, and products of Hawaii's Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Heavily illustrated with photographs and diagrams.
Volcanic and Seismic Hazards on the Island of Hawaii
A general interest publication that provides an excellent description, with photographs, of the hazards associated with living in an active volcanic region and the topics that potential homeowners and land-use planners must consider.


General Water
Education - Learn About Water
Start your search here for a wealth of water science resources that are appropriate for use in K-college classrooms.
USGS Water Science School
A fantastic resource for K-8 water science. Offers information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where students can give their opinions and test their water knowledge.   
The Water Cycle for Kids
A cartoon poster that shows water droplets traveling through the water cycle. Select the "interactive" option and choose the Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced versions to get more information. Download the poster (PDF) for free in multiple languages. There's also a version for older students.
A Journey with Water
A very simple coloring book following the adventures of a water drop. Suitable for K-2.
Water Education Posters
Download posters covering nine different water topics that are drawn in a cartoon format. Posters are downloadable in both color or black and white and some are also available in Spanish. The reverse sides of the color posters contain educational activities: one version for grades 3-5 (Elementary School) and the other with activities for grades 6-8 (Middle School). The black-and-white posters are blank on the back and are intended for coloring. Activities include:
  • Water, Floods, and Flood Plains -Use simple materials and a spray bottle to learn about watersheds and floods.
  • Hazardous Waste Cleanup - Students experience the difficulty of cleaning up contaminated water.
  • The Value of Water - Students use "water dollars" to pay for the water that they use throughout the day, learning the ways we use water and its importance in day-to-day living.
  • Where Does Your Used Water Go? - Learn what happens to wastewater and the importance of treatment facilities.
  • Recharge -- Discharge - Use gravel, twigs, and water to create a valley model that demonstrates the movement of groundwater.
Have you ever dropped a stick in a river and wondered where it might go if it floated all the way downstream? Explore America's larger streams by tracing them upstream to their source or downstream to where they empty. Learn about your stream traces and the places they pass through in a detailed report.
Science in Your Watershed
Provides information about watersheds and a map locator for watersheds across the country.   
Hands-on Experiments to Test for Acid Mine Drainage
Fourteen very basic exercises use home-made litmus paper and household items to test creek water for acid mine drainage and to look at plants, bacteria, and insects living in the water.

What is Ground Water?
A very simple explanation of groundwater and aquifers. Diagrams are included.
Ground Water
A short booklet that describes how groundwater occurs and how its quality is assessed. Contains a good glossary.
Note: Older USGS publications retain the pre-2009 spelling of "ground water" as two words.

Saline Water
Defines and provides information about the salt content of natural waters.
Why is the Ocean Salty?
Explains the origin of salt in seawater.
Thirsty? How 'Bout a Cool, Refreshing Cup of Seawater?
A brief explanation of the desalination of seawater.
The Water Cycle: Water Storage in Oceans
Easily understood basics about the quantity, composition, and movement of water in the oceans.

Floods and Floodplains
This easy-to-understand fact sheet describes why floods occur and discusses the basics about flood-plain designation.
Large Floods in the United States: Where they Happen and Why
A 13-page on-line publication that describes the geographic and climatic factors that influence the occurrence and impacts of large floods in the United States.
Significant Floods in the United States During the 20th Century
A short description of the types of floods, how they are measured, and the 32 most significant floods of the last century.   
FAQs About Floods
Frequently Asked Questions about floods.
The 100-Year Flood
What is a 100-year flood and why don't these floods happen every 100 years? This simple fact sheet describes the statistics behind the designation and explains why regular measurements are essential for understanding them.

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