Drop, cover, and hold!

a short story about earthquakes for middle school students

The ground rumbled like a freight train as 10-year-old Suzie sat in her classroom. Her pencil case rattled off her desk and pencils scattered across the floor. "Earthquake!" her teacher yelled. "Get under your desks!"

Suzie dove under her desk, clutching her legs to her chest. The classroom pitched and swayed like a small boat in a storm. 

Suzie squeezed her eyes shut, wishing it would stop.

The florescent lights flickered and died. The air filled with screams and falling debris. Suzie couldn't see anything in the darkness. The desk screeched across the floor as the ground bucked. She held on tightly, heart hammering in her chest.

After what seemed like forever, the rumbling faded. Only the cries of Suzie's classmates filled the air. "Is everyone okay?" the teacher called. Suzie crawled from under her desk on shaky legs. She could barely make out the shapes of her classmates in the dim light.

"We need to get outside!" the teacher said. She led them to the door, their shoes crunching on loose ceiling tiles and broken glass. Suzie gasped when she saw the hallway. It looked like a monster had smashed through the school. Lockers were toppled like dominos and part of the ceiling had collapsed.

They hurried through the rubble and burst out the front doors. Suzie froze at the sight before her. It looked like a bomb had hit their town. Buildings were partially collapsed, cars overturned, power lines down. Sirens wailed in the distance.

"To the field!" The teacher waved them towards the grassy area where they held PE class. Suzie followed on numb legs. She couldn't believe her eyes. Their little town looked like a war zone.

The aftershocks kept coming, rumbling beneath their feet like underground thunder. Every tremor sent Suzie's heart leaping into her throat. She kept imagining the ground splitting open to swallow them.

After what seemed like hours, the aftershocks finally slowed. The fire department arrived with rescue crews. Suzie stood with her class, blinking against the setting sun, faces streaked with dust and tears. They had survived one of the biggest earthquakes in their state's history.

When Suzie finally saw her mom running across the field toward her, she collapsed into her arms. They held each other tightly, crying with relief. Suzie knew she would never forget this day and how the earth itself seemed to turn against them. But she had stayed calm and survived thanks to her teacher's quick thinking. She was brave in the face of danger, and that made Suzie feel braver too.

Many weeks later, Suzi began to wonder about where other earthquakes occur and why.  She began her exploration with a digital map, like the one below.

Educational resource references:

Tags: geocomic earth geology earthquake quake tectonic FK8