Outreach Activities and Laboratory Tours

The W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Isotope Geochemistry at UCLA is a facility engaged in world-leading investigations in the Earth and planetary sciences. We are partnered with the National Science Foundation who encourage engagement of their supported facilities with K-12 education to enhance science literacy and thus create better informed citizens by making science exciting, accessible, and relevant.

Our staff is committed to encouraging young people toward careers in science by exposing them to our enthusiasm for discovery. We strongly believe that bringing elementary school-aged children into the university environment creates an association with the state’s premier public institutions that helps build confidence that they will be welcomed here upon graduation. In this regard, we particularly encourage participation of students from traditionally disadvantaged communities.

The centerpiece of our laboratory is a high resolution ion microprobe – a device that uses a high energy ion beam about 1/10 of the width of a human hair – to probe geologic samples. Our discoveries include: finding the oldest evidence of life on Earth and learning that Earth can plunge into ice ages in a matter of years! The instrument attracts a talented and dedicated staff that have developed a variety of interactive tours geared toward students in grades 3 and 4.

During the course of your visit, field trippers will be encouraged to ask questions and have the opportunity to participate in hands-on demonstrations about earthquakes, learn the names and everyday usages of some common minerals, experience a show at the UCLA planetarium, and, most of all, have fun. The program is designed to help students better understand the Earth and space sciences and give them a practical means to apply that knowledge while building interest in pursuing science at the collegiate level.


We recommend that groups of 10-15 students participate in three of the following 25 minute interactive opportunities:


Planetarium Show

UCLA’s planetarium is across the Courtyard of Sciences from the Geology Building, which houses the Keck Center. The star projector recreates the night sky on the inside of the planetarium dome. Program includes "Life in the Universe" and "A Tour of the Solar System and Beyond".

Tourmaline Minerals


The use of minerals in society is highlighted in an interactive demonstration in which students match two dozen mineral specimens to everyday products (e.g., talcum powder, matches, sandpaper, pencils, silicon chip, etc.). The presentation ends with a tour of the large and attractively displayed mineral collection throughout the Geology Building.


Earthquake Simulation

Age appropriate model demonstrations show the origin of seismic waves during earthquakes, the passage of seismic waves through the Earth, the effect of seismic waves on buildings, and liquefaction effects followed by a brief power point presentation on earthquake safety. An interactive discussion with the students ensues in which their questions and concerns can be raised.

Our Requirements

Please note that the tour content that we provide is designed for grades 3 and 4.

To Request a Tour

We invite you to visit and learn at our facility. Please contact our Outreach Officer, Ms. April Kramer at akramer@igpp.ucla.edu or (310) 206-2285 .