Objective: Students will learn the basics of plate tectonics.
Materials Needed: Classroom globe, large piece of cardboard or black paper, permanent markers, clay, colors of poster paint trays for earth colors (green, tan, blue and brown), scissors, white chalk
Time: 1 hour
1. Introduction (5 minutes): Introduce the topic of plate tectonics by presenting the big ideas: Plate tectonics is an earth science concept describing the movement of tectonic plates within the earth. Explain that the movement of these plates often causes earthquakes, changes in land, and other natural changes.
2. Chart Creation (15 minutes): Begin by having students create a chart showing the movement of plates. Ask students to make tracings of the globe with their large piece of cardboard or paper. Then, with the chalk, have them label each plate tectonic in various directions - up, down, left and right.
3. Plate Tectonics Demonstration (15 minutes):
Now that the students have created charts and labeled each plate, give them clay and markers. Now, explain the different types of plate motions -- convergence, divergence, and lateral motion.
Have students use the markers to make arrows on their plates, showing which way each plate is moving.
To simulate how plates move, have students use the clay to create mountains and ocean floors. Have students manipulate their clay plates to demonstrate how the plates move, pushing and pulling.
To demonstrate how plates crash, place two clay plates together and have students push together and then pull back apart, simulating a crash.
4. Painting (15 minutes):
After simulating the movements of the plates, have students paint the cardboard and paper with the colors of the Earth.
5. Discussion (10 minutes):
Allow students to talk about the different way each plate moved and the effects of these movements.
Encourage students to share with the class what they have learned. Finally, leave class with some thought provoking questions, such as
"What do you think would have happened if the plates didn't move?"
"What do you think will happen in the future if the plates continue to move?"