Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Mount St. Helens erupted 40 years ago; tips for teaching your kids about it

Monday is the 40th anniversary of a huge event in Washington state, and a perfect opportunity for a science and history lesson.


May 18, 1980: Mount St. Helens erupted in Southwest Washington, a date etched in the memory of Northwesterners as an event that took dozens of lives and forever changed the landscape.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of the event, is the perfect time to educate your family about the science, ecology and history of the eruption — and maybe plan a future trip to see the site for yourself.

Here are a few of the resources we've found for your St. Helens science lesson:

Washington State Parks Adventure Awaits blog features photos, interviews with survivors and even video of the eruption. (Yes, kids, we had video in 1980!)

Find information here about the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland is having a "virtual science pub" event Monday evening focusing on the eruption.

The U.S. Geological Survey has an extensive 40th-anniversary report and lots of resources online.

No public commemorations of the event are planned, due to the coronavirus crisis. But stay tuned: Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that perhaps we can observe the 40th anniversary a year late.