Forces of Nature

Get up close and personal to erupting volcanoes, devastating earthquakes, and powerful storms as scientists travel the world trying to understand what causes these dangerous natural events. Risking their lives for scientific discovery, these experts forge their way through volcanic flows, along treacherous fault lines, and in cars heading straight toward a raging twister.

Forces of Nature is a National Geographic production.

Forces of Nature is recommended for ages 6 and up. Teachers interested in bringing a school group should consult the Tennessee Curriculum standards information listed below.

Forces of Nature currently available for school groups. To book a group reservation, call (615) 862-5177 at least two weeks in advance.

For More Information

Download the ASC Educator's Guide for Forces of Nature

Web sites


  • Volcano & Earthquake (DK Eyewitness Books) by Susanna van Rose
  • Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes (Science Encyclopedia) by Alexander Gates and David Ritchie
  • Furious Earth: The Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis By Ellen Prager
  • On Shaky Ground: The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 by Norma Hayes Bagnall
  • Tornadoes by Seymour Simon
  • Hunting Nature's Fury: A Storm Chaser's Obsession With Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and Other Natural Disasters by Roger Hill and Peter Bronski
Forces of Nature is recommended for Grades 4 and up.

TN State Science Standards

Conceptual Strands

  • EMBEDDED INQUIRYUnderstandings about scientific inquiry and the ability to conduct inquiry are essential for living in the 21st century.
    Guiding Question: What tools, skills, knowledge, and dispositions are needed to conduct scientific inquiry?
  • STANDARD 7 - THE EARTH Conceptual Strand 7: Major geologic events that occur over eons or brief moments in time continually shape and reshape the surface of the Earth, resulting in continuous global change.
  • STANDARD 8 - THE ATMOSPHERE Conceptual Strand 8: The earth is surrounded by an active atmosphere and an energy system that controls the distribution [of] life, local weather, climate, and global temperature.

Grade Level Expectations (GLE)

5th Grade

Earth and Space Science
  • GLE 0507.7.1 Compare geologic events responsible for the earth’s major geological features.
  • GLE 0507.8.1 Analyze and predict how major landforms and bodies of water affect atmospheric conditions

6th Grade

Earth and Space Science
  • GLE 0607.8.4 Analyze meteorological data to predict weather conditions.

7th Grade

Earth and Space Science
  • GLE 0707.7.3 Analyze the characteristics of the earth’s layers and the location of the major plates.
  • GLE 0707.7.4 Explain how earthquakes, mountain building, volcanoes, and sea floor spreading are associated with movements of the earth’s major plates.

High School

Earth Science
  • CLE 3204.3.1 Explain the components of the tectonic cycle.
  • CLE 3204.3.4 Interpret data related to the atmospheric cycle.
  • CLE 3204.4.1 Interpret the nature of geologic time.
  • CLE 3204.4.2 Investigate the evolution of the earth.
  • CLE 3205.1.1 Read and interpret topographic and geologic maps.
  • CLE 3205.1.2 Use geologic maps to investigate rock types, time periods, and faults and folds.
  • CLE 3205.1.3 Investigate technologies used to create maps.
  • CLE 3205.4.2 Investigate the evolution of earth.
  • CLE 3205.5.1 Describe the major evidence to explain the theory of plate tectonics.
  • CLE 3205.5.2 Recognize different types of plate boundaries.
  • CLE 3205.5.3 Explain how convection currents provide the driving mechanism for plate movement.
  • CLE 3205.5.4 Describe processes associated with volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountain building.
Environmental Science:
  • CLE 3260.1.2 Use the theory of plate tectonics to explain the occurrence of earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.


  1. Name one active volcano.
  2. Name at least one active fault zone in North America.
  3. Describe conditions that cause many thunderstorms in the Midwest.

Pre-visit Activities

  1. Discuss the structure of the Earth and the factors that shape landmasses both above and below the surface: plate tectonics, volcanoes, wind and water erosion, drought, human activity, etc.
  2. Examine the geologic processes that create volcanoes and the difference between Hawaiian volcanoes and Mount St. Helens.
  3. Have students research the plates that make up and surround North America and how those plates are moving relative to one another.
  4. Discover how many tornadoes occur each year in Tennessee and other southern states and when they typically occur. Research “tornado alley” and how weather patterns increase the chance of severe storms and tornadoes.

Post-visit Activities

  1. Grade-specific activities are available from the National Geographic Forces of Nature web site
  2. The March 2011 earthquake in Japan ranks near the top of historic earthquakes. Examine where earthquakes have occurred around the world and their resulting impact.
  3. Have students research the New Madrid quakes of 1811-12 and the fault zone area of west Tennessee and southeast Missouri. What are the predictions for future quakes there?
  4. Have students assess their hometown for all types of disasters. What can one expect and how often?
  5. Forces of Nature discusses how we should be prepared for disasters. Have students create emergency plans and kits for home and school. Consider scenarios such as: what would you do if there was no electricity for two weeks after a storm?
  6. Have students research historic volcanic events. How could a large volcano affect atmosphere, weather and climate around the globe?


  • ash clouds
  • atmosphere
  • chronology
  • continental
  • crust
  • deformation
  • Doppler radar
  • earthquakes
  • eruptions
  • fault
  • geophysicist
  • Hagia Sophia
  • hail
  • lava
  • magnitude
  • magma
  • Montserrat
  • plates
  • pyroclastic
  • radar hooks
  • Richter scale
  • rupture
  • seismic
  • supercell
  • thunderstorm
  • tornado
  • Tornado Alley
  • volatile
  • volcano
  • volcanologist
  • water vapor