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Element 5 - Education & Outreach
Project Manager: Jill Andrews - Caltech (formerly with SCEC)

Appendix 5.3.1 - Educational Modules

Mission of the Kidzone Earthquake Exhibit

To reach the local community, particularly elementary and secondary school children, with positive messages about studying the Earth and preparing for earthquakes; to provide a global to local perspective of how the earth changes; to promote empowerment of citizens by providing information and instruction regarding safety and mitigation; to motivate individuals to be active in hazard preparedness in their local communities.

Mission of the Kidzone Earthquake Education Advisory Committee

The mission of the Kidzone Earthquake Education Advisory Committee is to advise and assist the staff of the Kidzone museum in its work with the Southern California Earthquake Center (and other interested parties) in the design, implementation, and on-going development of an Earthquake Exhibit. To this end, the committee will suggest and endorse ideas that promote diversity of programs, activities and materials.

Target Audience of Exhibit: 5 - 6 Grade


Big Idea:

I can prepare for earthquakes by learning about how the Earth changes, what happens to my house and other buildings during earthquakes and how I can help my family make a safety plan.

  • Stress on personal responsibility and empowerment
  • Global to local
  • Earth to my family


A Child - The visitor is on a mission to discover and learn as much as possible to assist her/his family in the preparation for an earthquake. Child takes on the role of scientist, sleuth, engineer and emergency planner. Role reversal - young person assures adults that earthquake risk is manageable.

Reading Level:

      General Comments

  • Labels and supporting materials for children's exhibitions should be crafted for their developmental levels, not a watered down childish version of an adult label.
  • Use vocabulary words familiar to children
  • Adults will often choose to read labels written for children because they know the labels will be easier to read.

Guidelines for Selecting Vocabulary Levels

  1. Test your text
    • e.g. word processor Flesch, Colman and Bormuth formulas
  2. Use front-end evaluation
    • Representative sample of potential visitors (20 - 25 people)
  3. Do "core" editing
    • This is an editing technique that can help make reading levels broadly based is to review the text and cross out words that are above a fifth- or sixth-grade vocabulary.
    • Higher level vocabulary words that are used as adjectives, not nouns, will add more information without obscuring core meaning (e.g. Free xxxxxxx horse rides)
  4. Appropriate reading levels are best governed by guidelines that are based on the assumption that the majority of the readers, regardless of age, are not conversant in the vocabulary of the subject.

Programs to Support Exhibit:

  1. Pre/Post Activities for Teachers and Students
    • Paid school program (Send out activities as advance organizers and for assessment)
  2. Website: Exhibit Virtual Tour, Links to Earth Science sites, etc.

On-Site Activities for Self- or Presenter-led Programs

  1. Guidebook for visitors to follow exhibit (multiple entry points will be necessary). When work is completed, the visitor gets a special stamp from museum staff member. Take home activities (e.g. survival kit plan)

  2. Educator/Explainer facilitated programs

Short Activities (5 - 10 minutes):

  • Fault Types (block model)
  • Slinky (S and P waves)
  • Strength of materials (touch and manipulate materials that are in display case)

Longer Activities (15 - 30 minutes):

  • Locate an epicenter
  • Plate Tectonics cutouts
  • Earthquake Simulation Game (from Putting Down Roots )
  • How to make an Earthquake Survival Kit (mock materials)
  • Geological Time Scale (Rope Activity)
  • Guest Speakers

Really Long Activities (1/2 - 8 hours):

  • First Aid/CPR
  • Tremor Troop (FEMA - 159)
  • Seismic Sleuths (FEMA - 253)
  • Shake Table Competition
  • GPS Activity


  • Teacher Resource Center
  • For Sale (Videos, Books, Toys, etc.)

Links to the Curriculum:

Geography: Where do I live? Where do earthquakes?

Language Arts: Use famous stories to get across important concepts and morals. Students learn new words and practice using them with their families. Include myths and other forms of explanation for earthquakes. Provide a glossary in Spanish and English.


    Scale: Size of the Earth
    Proportion: Design an earthquake kit for one's family.
    Graphs: Earthquake size and duration of shaking
    Rate: How waves affect buildings

History: Famous earthquakes (Emphasis on southern California/Riverside area)

The Exhibit


ShakeZone will offer several Entry Points in order to break several content areas into manageable chunks for the visitors. Educators who have only a limited time or have specific objectives have the option to use only part of the exhibit for their classes.

Panel 1:

Entry Point 1:

Where do I live?

Objective: A focus on looking at maps, identifying major landforms, and obtaining a sense of scale and structure from a qualitative standpoint.

Global -> Local

Map of Earth -> North America -> USA -> California -> Southern California -> Riverside

[Apollo Earth Photo, JPL Images]

Entry Point 2:

How does the Earth Change?

Objectives: Examination of changes on the Earth over geological time scales
Exploration of large scale processes (Plate Tectonics)
How the Earth accommodates changes (Plate Boundaries and faults)

Global Patterns and Processes -> Plates -> How do plates move? (slide by, spread, collide) -> Why do plates move? (Motion in Earth's interior) -> The Earth changes over time

Compare Earth at various times (225, 65, and 0 million years ago)

Look more closely at California -> Plate Boundary -> What is a fault? -> Fault types -> Faults in southern California [CUREe Fault Map] (San Andreas Fault System and other Faults) -> Faults in Riverside (ECI Maps)

Panel 2:

Entry Point 3:

What Happens When the Earth Shakes?

Objectives: Describe the earthquake process
Explore the different kinds of waves produced by an earthquake

Video display with footage from (Kobe, Loma Prieta, Northridge) -> How does the shaking get from the fault to my house. [Detector and Monitor, see NMNH photograph)

What is an earthquake? -> Sudden Fault Rupture -> Production of Waves (Primary, Secondary and Surface) -> Shaking -> What do I feel?

Entry Point 4:

How do earthquakes affect buildings and other structures?

Objectives: Discuss how shaking affects structures
Examine other hazards posed by earthquakes

Different Types of Buildings -> Response to Shaking [CUREe Building Photos]

A building may not fall during the shaking but it can be damaged in other ways -> Fire, Tsunami, Liquefaction, etc. -> Where do I live? (ECI Maps)

Shake Table and Computer simulations

Building Materials and Construction Techniques -> In what kind building do I live?

Panel 3:

Entry Point 5:

How can I help my family prepare for an earthquake?

Objectives: Emphasize personal preparedness
Empower individuals to act in the local community

Where do I live? -> What kind of building do I live in?

[Pictures of retrofitted and unretrofitted buildings, types of foundations (from CUREe)]

How is a building made safer (So my family and I can get out alive) -> House design

How is my home arranged? -> Home Hazard Hunt

Entry Point 6:

What can I do?

Objective: Emphasize preparation at the home level

How do I make a survival kit? -> Construction of an earthquake survival kit from mock materials [glass case will have a real one on display, see NMNH photo]

Would museum be interested in vendors of survival kits?

Proposed ShakeZone Timeline:

01 August 2000:    KidZone-ShakeZone Field Trip to Caltech, USC,
                   SCEC and The California Science Center

29 August 2000:    KidZone-ShakeZone Focus Group Meeting at KidZone,
                   Riverside, 1 - 4 PM. (Feedback on Exhibit Proposal)

                   * Form Task Groups
                   * de Groot plan meeting with Task Groups
                     at school or work site 

Late October 2000: KidZone-ShakeZone Focus Group Meeting at KidZone,
                   Riverside, 1 - 4 PM. (Revised Exhibit Proposal
                   Feedback and Fine Tuning)

                   * Create final exhibit proposal document

Late Fall 2000:    Exhibit Mock-ups and Front End Evaluation

Spring 2001:       Exhibit component fabrication and installation

                   * Conduct Formative Evaluation

Summer 2001:       Debut of ShakeZone Exhibit

Important Terms:

Formative Evaluation: During exhibit development and draft label writing, evaluations can fine-tune texts to make sure that directions, information, and vocabulary levels are being expressed appropriately for the audiences that will be using them. Evaluation is done on mock-ups or prototypes of exhibit elements to test their effectiveness before making the final version.

Front-End Evaluation: Before an exhibit project gets under way in detail, developers can find out what visitors know, what their expectations are, and to what extent their vocabulary describes a particular exhibit topic. Another common method for doing front-end evaluation is forming a focus group.

Learning Styles: Learners' preferences for how they like to receive and process information and solve problems. Not to be confused with modalities, which refers to forms of instructional design, not learners.

Modalities: Different methods, modes, or forms of communication used in exhibitions, or the manner in which interpretation is presented, such as labels, AV demonstrations, or graphics.

Summative Evaluation: Once the exhibition is open to the public, evaluations of the whole context can reveal areas that need further refinements that could not have been anticipated earlier. Evaluations after opening also give researchers the opportunity to test hypotheses about visitor use and impacts and make comparisons of exhibition success.

© CUREE. All rights reserved.
Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 03.27.15