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Links about history, geography,  culture and more for 4th grade Wisconsin studies.

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Use these sites to explore geology, from rocks and mineral to plate tectonics.

Quick Links: General
l Wisconsin | Rocks & Minerals | Caves | Glaciers | Earthquakes | Volcanoes

Ask A Geologist, from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), invites students to submit questions for earth scientists to answer. Make sure they first search the Web site before sending in a question!

The Geology Wing at the University of California-Berkeley Museum of Paleontology is an online exhibit that journeys through Earth's geologic history to explore stratigraphy, life, fossils, and tectonics of various time periods.

Geologic Time: The Story of Our Changing Earth from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History includes a sliding timeline and an overview of each eon in geologic history.

The Illinois State Museum provides a geologic history of The Midwestern U.S. 16,000 Years Ago, with information on Pleistocene-era plants and animals and animated maps depicting the retreat of the glaciers in North America.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) site Geology of the National Parks, for middle and high school students, includes a glossary and information on plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, geologic time, caves, and glaciers. Students also can take virtual tours of geologically interesting national parks.

Tour of Park Geology, from the National Park Service, allows you to choose geologic features-caves, glaciers, volcanoes-and then virtually tour national parks that have them.

This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics is a USGS book that can be viewed online or downloaded and printed.

Our Restless Planet Animation Library from NASA features short animations of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and other earth processes.

Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center includes online exhibits and multimedia explaining why geysers erupt, with animations on plate tectonics, hotspot theory and more.

Earth Today, from the National Air and Space Museum, shows how Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere interact.

Geology Labs Online, from California State University, offers Web-based lab activities to enhance high school and college learning of geology and other earth sciences.

A Paleo Perspective on Global Warming, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), gives a scientific explanation of global warming and paleoclimactic data from the past 600 years. Site also available in Spanish.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum provides geology lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school students.

The Legacy of the Ice Age in Wisconsin, from the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation, is a guide to Wisconsin's glacial period.

Glacial Features in the Midwest shows aerial photographs of moraines, kames, eskers, kettle lakes and more.

The Virtual Silurian Reef, site from Milwaukee Public Museum, explains Wisconsin's geologic history. A virtual diorama lets students explore the reef that covered Wisconsin during the Silurian period.

The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Web site provides information about the survey's publications, including maps such as Bedrock Geology of Wisconsin, Soil Regions of Wisconsin and Ice Age Deposits of Wisconsin.

Rocks & Minerals

Dig It! the Secrets of Soil from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History features videos and interactives on types of soil, soil minerals, soils of the world and of all 50 states.

Rock Hounds, from the Franklin Institute Science Museum, gives elementary students information on many types of rocks and how they were formed.

The Rock Cycle from the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College features animations designed to help students and teachers visualize processes such as igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock formation.

Annenberg's Rock Cycle interactive lets students create a virtual rock collection as they learn about the three main types of rock, find out how to tell the different rock types apart, and see how rocks change from one type into another.

A group of fourth graders created Get Ready to Rock, a Web site about rocks and minerals of all types. Find information about igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, as well as instructions for activities such as growing crystals or rock polishing.

Created by elementary students for the ThinkQuest Junior competition, A Wonderful World: Earth explores rocks and minerals.

This Planet Really Rocks: All About Rocks and Minerals is another student-created ThinkQuest Junior Web site especially helpful to kids interested in rock-collecting.

Athena Mineralogy, from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, has lists of minerals with their chemical formulas, a searchable database, and mineral photos.

The Mineral Gallery provides photographs and descriptions of minerals by name, class, and other groupings.

The Nature of Diamonds, from the American Museum of Natural History, presents an illustrated look at the history and geology of the diamond.


The USGS's Cave and Karst Program offers a guide to caves and cave formations, with photographs from many National Parks.

Views of the National Parks: Caves and Karst features great photographs and information about types of caves, cave formation, cave animals and microorganisms, and much more. Be sure to click around in each topic to find even more information.

The Formation of Caves, from Kentucky Caverns, describes cave formation and ecology, with a glossary and student activities.

The Virtual Cave explores four major types of caves with photos, drawings, and text. Created by an amateur caver who is also a photographer, the site provides many photographs of cave formations.


This Glaciers interactive from the University of Colorado lets you adjust variables like mountain snowfall and temperature, then watch the glacier grow and sink. Use scientific tools to measure thickness, velocity and glacial budget.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center present All About Glaciers with information and photographs.

Learn about the Features of Alpine Glaciation through drawings and photographs from Eastern Oregon University.

The USGS Water Science for Schools site explains the importance of Glaciers and Icecaps: Storehouses of freshwater.

NASA's Visible Earth image catalog includes many aerial photographs of glaciers.

At the Edge: Monitoring Glaciers to Watch Global Change from NASA's Earth Observatory includes information about different types of glaciers and how scientists monitor and measure them.

Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists is a collection of blogs and photographs from geologists and other scientists studying the arctic and antarctic regions.

Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics

The USGS site Earthquakes for Kids is a great place to get all sorts of information about earthquakes. The site provides animations, photographs, facts and more. If you use Google Earth, check out the KML files such as the Real Time earthquake map or a virtual tour of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Faultline, from the San Francisco Exploratorium, explores the how and why of earthquakes and includes information on plate tectonics, faults, waves and measurements.

Earthquakes, from the Tech Museum of Innovation, presents a multimedia overview of earthquakes.

The National Earthquake Information Center, from the USGS, features clickable real-time maps depicting current seismic activity.

This interactive map of major tectonic plates and fault lines is from PBS Online NewsHour site Predicting Earthquakes.

Savage Earth, from PBS, gives information about earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis, including simple animation of several geologic processes.

Plate Tectonics Animations, from the University of California Berkeley illustrate the movement of the continents over time.

What on Earth is Plate Tectonics? from the USGS includes descriptions, illustrations and animations.

Plate Tectonic Movement Visualizations from Carleton College and the National Science Foundation links to animations from many different sources.


Volcano World from Oregon State University includes lots of information about volcanism and different types of volcanoes, a volcano glossary, updates on current eruptions, major volcanoes listed by country, instructions for building your own volcano, on current eruptions, earth science lessons and much more.

Volcanoes of the World from the Smithsonian Institute provides a world map of volcanic activity, a photo gallery of volcanic processes, reports on recent volcanic activity and short videos on volcanic eruption phenomenon.

National Geographic Kids provides a short video called Volcanoes 101.

The Seismic Signals animation from NOVA demonstrates the differences between the various types of earthquakes that originate within volcanoes and deciphers the squiggly lines they produce.

The USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory provides information about Hawaiian volcanoes, including photographs, videos and current eruption reports.

Cascades Volcano Observatory Educational Outreach from the USGS provides lots of information and photographs of volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest.

Beauty and the Beast is a site created by Hawaii elementary students that contains information about volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Volcanoes Online is an illustrated guide to plate tectonics and volcanoes. This student-created site also includes games, comics, and lesson plans.

Created 11/2005
Last updated 03/24/2011
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