Reviewed by: Nwanua Elumeze, Eric Gundersen, Zach Johnson
The Spotlight on Science volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis hands on experiments kit consisted of 24 experiment cars that had background information provided on the back. The kit also contained: a hand lens, plastic ruler, world map, sand paper, ping-pong ball, rocks, balloons, cookie sheet, towels, boxes, salt, corns syrup, cardboard, a saucer, rubber mallet, pencil, paper, aluminum foil, tissue paper, thread, bucket, , and washers. In addition to the items included the kit requires a set of common household items: scissors, globe, sand, apple, heavy books, rope, water glass, water, tape, baking soda, vinegar, and 2 2-litler bottles. From these pieces the cards build a vocabulary and teach a basic understanding of earth science. The cards themselves layout a task based on the name of the card. So, for example RContinental DriftS has the kid cut out the 7 continents, and then they try to fit them together. On the left side of the card it has a sticky-note style section that lists the RMaterialsS. The instructions refer to landmasses, and Eurasia in this process. Then at the bottom of the card it asks, RWhat did you notice?S and goes on to ask if the continents fit together, and the asked why they might not have fit together perfectly. The back of the card lists RMore InfoS where it lays out the exact details of continental drift and displays the 13 major plates of the earth and talks of the originator of this theory. The kit proceeds building on all the previous cards through earthquakes (p-waves, crusty waves, and seismography) then to volcanoes (trouble below, eruption, lava, cones, types of lava rock) and finishing with tsunamis (slosh, wave bend, wave bounce, magnification). Each card is accurate in its depiction, history and background information for each topic.
The target audience as labeled by the box is ages 8 and up. Just reading through the cards it is very obvious that for the 8 year old they expect the parent to being reading and interpreting the card. But for older children like 9 to 12 solely the child could use this kit. Interestingly enough if this kit was used by the child alone it could very easily get the child in trouble. Several of the cards have the child hit hammers on cookie sheets covered in sand and splash water around in a tub with a cookie sheets. There could be a chance for the kid to do the experiment and have the parent come back and become angry that they didnUt clean up or that they destroyed the new cookie sheet.
This kit is obviously intended to help with earth science education without just lecturing to them. Each one of these cards demonstrates its topic through a tangible version that then is linked back to the topic. It does a very good job on each subject. The only item that was identified as a problem was that of the complicated descriptions on each card. This would have been tolerable if there had been good pictures or graphics accompanying them but there was generally just a simple graphic that gave no detail about how to set up the experiment.