Teacherbot 20 Aug, 17:58:27

Lesson Title: Exploring the Theory of Continental Drift

Grade Level: 6th-8th grade

NGSS Standards for Michigan: - MS-ESS2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. - MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions. - MS-ESS2-4: Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.

Lesson Objectives: 1. Students will understand the theory of continental drift and its impact on Earth’s surface. 2. Students will analyze and interpret data to provide evidence of past plate motions. 3. Students will develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives plate tectonics.

Materials: - World map or globe - Pictures or diagrams of Earth’s continents - Paper and pencils - Colored pencils or markers - Access to computers or tablets for research (optional)


  1. Introduction (10 minutes): a. Begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever noticed how the continents seem to fit together like puzzle pieces. b. Show a world map or globe and point out the shapes of the continents. c. Explain that the theory of continental drift suggests that the continents were once joined together in a single landmass called Pangaea and have since moved apart. d. State the NGSS standards for the lesson and explain that we will be exploring the theory of continental drift and its evidence.

  2. Evidence of Continental Drift (20 minutes): a. Divide students into small groups and provide each group with pictures or diagrams of Earth’s continents. b. Instruct students to carefully observe the shapes of the continents and discuss if they notice any similarities or patterns. c. Ask students to share their observations and discuss how the continents seem to fit together. d. Introduce the concept of fossil evidence by explaining that similar fossils have been found on different continents that are now far apart. e. Have students research and discuss specific examples of fossils found on different continents that support the theory of continental drift. f. Instruct students to record their observations and evidence on paper.

  3. Plate Tectonics Model (25 minutes): a. Explain that plate tectonics is the scientific theory that explains how Earth’s lithosphere is divided into several large and small plates that move and interact with each other. b. Provide each group with a blank sheet of paper and colored pencils or markers. c. Instruct students to create a model of plate tectonics by drawing the continents on separate pieces of paper and cutting them out. d. Have students arrange the continents on their blank sheet of paper to show how they might have fit together in the past. e. Instruct students to label the different plates and draw arrows to represent the direction of plate motion. f. Encourage students to be creative and use their understanding of plate tectonics to add additional features such as mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes to their models.

  4. Conclusion and Reflection (5 minutes): a. Bring the class back together and have each group share their plate tectonics models. b. Discuss the evidence and observations that support the theory of continental drift. c. Ask students to reflect on what they have learned and how the theory of continental drift has changed our understanding of Earth’s surface. d. Summarize the lesson by emphasizing the NGSS standards covered and the importance of evidence-based explanations in understanding geoscience processes.

Assessment: - Observe students’ participation and engagement during group discussions and model creation. - Review students’ written observations and evidence of continental drift. - Assess students’ understanding through class discussions and reflections.

Extension Activities: 1. Research and present on other evidence supporting the theory of continental drift, such as magnetic striping on the seafloor or the distribution of ancient climates. 2. Investigate the current movement of Earth’s tectonic plates and its impact on geological features and natural hazards. 3. Explore the concept of plate boundaries and the different types of interactions between plates (convergent, divergent, and transform).