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

Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Spring 2013 Toys
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $34.95

Volcanoes & Earthquakes is a comprehensive science kit designed to teach about these natural phenomena and their amazing power that can result in catastrophic consequences. It includes an experiment manual, rock samples, a plate tectonics puzzle, globe model, volcano trivia game, materials necessary to make a working seismograph, and materials to create an erupting volcano model.

The engaging 48-page manual is full of lots of photographs, illustrations, and special "CHECK IT OUT" sections and includes up to date information on topics such as:

  • the anatomy of volcanoes and how they erupt
  • the plate tectonic structure of the earth and its relationship to earthquakes and volcanoes
  • how the ground moves and ways to reduce hazards to people by building earthquake-safe structures
  • tsunamis and the seismic events that trigger them

The manual provides extensive chemical safety information:

  • age restrictions and parental guidance requirements
  • work area preparation
  • chemical handling
  • personal protective equipment
  • proper waste disposal

This is an excellent product overall, save for two minor criticisms. One of the chemicals used in the volcano experiments is labeled "sodium hydrogen carbonate", but the product box and experiment manual repeatedly use the common name "sodium bicarbonate" instead. Some users may think they have the wrong chemical vial in their kit. Also, a picture on the box shows a child sprinkling a granular substance from a chemical vial onto a volcano model. This is not part of any activity in the kit and it goes against all the chemical safety information so carefully addressed in the manual.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2013 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.

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