August 20, 2013

What Causes an Earthquake?

A hands on demonstration for kids to see what causes an earthquake.

Earthquake science for kids - A super simple earthquake demonstration for kids.

Earthquake Science for Kids

We live in Southern California, so I am no stranger to earthquakes.  My older two boys have experienced a pretty big quake.  Lately JZ (6) has been asking me a lot of questions about earthquakes, and he really wants to know what causes an earthquake.  We love hands on science experiments, so I set out to find a way to demonstrate an earthquake to him.  I found this site to be a great resource in explaining earthquake science to kids.  My Google search found all sorts of awesome looking demos for older children and for high school science projects.  Eventually I came across this experiment and felt it was much better suited for the age of my boys.  

An invitation to learn about earthquakes

Hands on Earthquake Demonstration

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Demonstrating an earthquake to kids

Directions:  This demonstration is so simple and requires very little set up.  Punch two holes on one side of one of the cardboard rectangles.  Tie a string through the holes.  Repeat with the second piece of cardboard.  Tape the two pieces together, but leave room so they can sit apart.  Set the cardboard side by side on the cookie sheet side by side.  Cover the cardboard with dirt.  You do not need a thick layer of dirt, but you do want all of the cardboard covered.

Demonstrating how an earthquake  happens

Here is a close up of the taped cardboard, so you can see exactly how I set it up.

Hands on demonstration for kids to learn about earthquakes

Instruct your kids to gently pull on the strings.

Hands on earthquake science for kids - how to demonstrate an earthquake

JZ and J-Bug (4) thought is was so cool to watch the boards shake, causing the dirt to bounce.  It didn't explain what causes earthquakes, but it is a nice visual to go along with the information we read.

Earthquake demonstration for kids

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Earthquake science for kids with a simple, hands on demonstration.

More cool demonstrations for kids:

Thunderstorm Science with Convection Currents ~ How to Make a Spark ~ Making Rain in a Jar

Making convection currents - hands on weather science for kids  Demonstrating lightning - science for kids  How to make rain in a jar - hands on weather science for kids


  1. How cool! It is such a great hands on visual of an earthquake!

  2. This is perfect for us - we just read a Magic Tree House book about the San Francisco earthquake!

  3. Thank you so much! We're doing an extreme weather unit in January. I've been keeping an eye out for ideas for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, etc. This will be perfect! I've pinned this so I don't forget it.


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