Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Fall 2005 Toys
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $29.95
From the daily eruptions of Mt. Stromboli in Italy to the frequent tremors along the San Andreas fault in California, this toy teaches how the earth shakes, rattles, and rolls (literally). The information presented is so up to date that the book gives data on the Tsunami of December 2004.

This comprehensive kit includes a 32-page manual, material necessary to conduct five activities (two experiments and three models), and volcanic rock samples. Though small (6" x 8") in size, the manual is well-written and supplemented with dozens of photographs and illustrations.

"Did You Know…" fact boxes break up the text and provide interesting facts or oddities. In addition, six quizzes test comprehension of covered topics. Correct answers on the quiz questions allow the reader to solve a secret password that can be used to access a restricted part of the Thames & Kosmos website.

The volcano experiment is surely the highlight of this kit. Unlike the many vinegar/baking soda style volcanoes, this kit utilizes baking powder and plaster of Paris. The chemical reaction creates a "lava" flow that hardens on the mountain forms. Successive eruptions teach how lava behaves on changing terrain and demonstrates the development of a composite volcano. The mountain forms can be cleaned off and used again and again.

The manual provides lots of do's and don'ts related to chemical safety and waste disposal. Given the opportunity for dust to spread, the eye protection (goggles) included in the kit is a considerate addition.

This kit includes a significant amount of text that would be difficult for young children. However, the hands-on activities are understandable for children 10 and under.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

Look for this product at:
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Museum Stores
Discover This
Target Stores
National Geographic Society

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