Image of the Earthquake 101 section layout from Earthquake eBook

SAN FRANCISCO (September 13, 2012) — Bringing together the expertise of California's oldest science institution and Northern California's largest public broadcasting station, the California Academy of Sciences and KQED have developed a new multi-touch eBook about earthquakes. A unique blend of education and technology wrapped in dynamic science and media resources from both institutions, the project represents the first collaboration between a science institution and a public broadcasting station to create original content using Apple's iBooks Author and iTunes U platform.

The iTunes U course Earthquake, which works in conjunction with the eBook of the same name, launched simultaneously and, as of today, is the number-one course in iTunes U. Both the eBook and course are free to download from iTunes and coincide with the California Academy of Sciences' new exhibit, Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet. The iTunes U course is designed for middle- and high-school science educators to broaden their own knowledge and to use with their students. The eBook serves as an interactive complement to the course and is also designed as a stand-alone book for life-long learners. Together, these two resources shed new light on what earthquakes are, and how they move continents, form our landscape, and fit into the larger story of plate tectonics.
"Science education is more important than ever in the 21st century, and this project represents a major step forward in realizing the Academy's vision for supporting teachers everywhere in their quest to amaze, inspire and inform their students," says Elizabeth Babcock, dean of education at the California Academy of Sciences. "Digital platforms allow educators to tailor their own learning, and that of their students, in a way that simply wasn't possible even a few years ago. We are excited to collaborate with KQED to make such interactive resources freely available to educators and students beyond the Bay Area to improve the effectiveness of earth and life sciences teaching."

"We are delighted to partner with the California Academy of Sciences to leverage the latest technology to better serve our community and elevate the understanding of science," says John Boland, president of KQED. "We are particularly excited about the potential for repurposing KQED's rich and informative content in a visually engaging way using eBook technology, and this initial project leads the way. This is an important milestone in KQED's long history of creating learning media and partnering with other nonprofit institutions to serve our community."

Earthquake eBook and iTunes U Course
The eBook has interactive chapters, videos and dynamic animations that bring seismic phenomena to life with the touch of a fingertip. The Earthquake iTunes U course is structured like an interactive class syllabus. Its educational activities and classroom-ready materials are woven into an educator's primer on how plate tectonics shape the Earth's surface and directly impact people's lives. Several chapters from the eBook are referenced in the course, and clips from the Academy's latest planetarium show, Earthquake: Evidence of a Restless Planet, are used in both the eBook and course. For Californians, sections on the science behind Bay Area earthquakes and how to prepare for and respond to them will be particularly poignant.
Both the eBook (40 pages) and iTunes U course are divided into five similar chapters:

  • Earth's Structure, which discusses the core, mantel and crust of the Earth, plate boundaries and evidence of Earth?s different layers;
  • Plate Movements through Geologic Time, which reviews how previous supercontinents formed then broke up, the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, and evidence of plate tectonics and how this process shaped human history;
  • Earthquake 101, which covers fault types, determining an earthquake's epicenter, measuring earthquakes and detailed information about seismic waves.
  • Bay Area Earthquakes, which explores the Bay Area's faults, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and personal accounts of earthquakes; and
  • Get Prepared, which reviews what do before, during and after an earthquake.

An interactive quiz included in the eBook tests readers' earthquake knowledge. The iTunes U course contains additional resources for teachers and students.
The Earthquake eBook can be viewed on an iPad with iBooks 2. Helena Carmena and Jaynée Howe of the Academy and Andrea Swensrud and Jenny Oh of KQED were the principal producers of the course and eBook. Non-iPad users can find all of KQED's earthquake-related media online at An Educator Guide to the Academy's exhibit Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet, is also available at

KQED plans to produce several eBooks using Apple's iBooks Author in the future and is currently working on one covering the San Joaquin and Sacramento River Delta. The California Academy of Sciences and KQED also look forward to possible future collaborations.

The Earthquake eBook is available from the iBookstore on iPad or at
The Earthquake iTunes U Course is available from iTunes U or at




About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy's mission is to explore, explain and protect the natural world. Visit for more information.

About KQED

KQED ( has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS. KQED owns and operates public television stations KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area), KQED Plus (San Jose/Bay Area) and KQET 25 (Watsonville/Monterey); KQED Public Radio (88.5 FM San Francisco and 89.3 FM Sacramento); the interactive platforms and; and KQED Education. KQED Public Television is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; This Week in Northern California; Truly CA; and Essential Pépin. KQED's digital television stations include KQED 9, KQED Plus, KQED Life, KQED World, KQED Kids and KQED V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast. KQED Public Radio, home of Forum and The California Report, is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service delivering more than eighteen local weekday newscasts and news features. KQED Interactive provides KQED's cross-platform news service,, as well as several popular local blogs, video and audio podcasts and a live radio stream at KQED Education brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and the general public through workshops, community screenings and multimedia resources.

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