Plate Tectonics 

Created by:
C. Rieger 
Savanna School District

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UCI Summer Science Institute WebQuests - 2001
http://www-sci.lib.uci.edu/SEP/ssi2001/ 

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Purpose: .Investigate the theory of plate tectonics. 

           1.Consider earthquakes and volcanoes as direct evidence of crustal movement. 
           2. Recognize that forces within the Earth can produce folds and faults. 
           3.Use models to illustrate the theory of plate tectonics. 
           4.Relate plate tectonic theory to continental drift theory. 
           5.Examine the causes of earthquakes. 
           6.Describe the effects of earthquakes
 

Resources Needed:
Computer, internet, pencil, and paper
 
 
Overview of Plate Tectonics

Your Task: To explore the theories in plate tectonics and demonstrate your knowledge through a variety of tasks!
 

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Brainpoppers link below!

Click the earth to find out about faulting!
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Have you ever wondered how to measure an earthquake's intensity?  Learn how to build a seismograph!

 
 
 
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Group activity

Supply groups of students with a hard boiled egg, a leather soccer ball, a globe, and cutout shapes representing each of the continents.

       As in any group situation, encourage students to work cooperatively during the tasks. Assign people in each group to be responsible for manipulating equipment, observing, recording, and reporting. Ask students choose different roles during subsequent activities.

       Emphasize that each of the objects they have acts as a model to help understand continental drift. Ask the groups to create analogies that show how each object can represent the Earth.

       The hard boiled egg has a thin outer shell. This is analogous to the Earth's crust. The egg white represents the mantle, and the yolk the core. By cracking the shell, students might convey the idea that the crust can be thought of as consisting of sections, rather than continuous, undisturbed matter.

       The soccer ball can reinforce that concept about the Earth's crust. The sections of the ball are all joined together. These are analogous to the plates on the crust.

       The globe provides a reference for considering the other objects. If the globe has relief contours on it, those might indicate where regions of the plates meet, similar to the boundaries between two connected patches on the soccer ball.

       Finally, the shapes of the continents can reinforce the idea of continental drift. Have students arrange the continents on a surface, using the globe to place the shapes in their relative positions. Ask them to try to move the continents together, as if they were moving the pieces in a large jigsaw puzzle until they find the best fit. Once they have the best fit, have them slowly return the continents back to their original position, noting the direction that each one moves. According to the theory of continental drift, forces within the Earth cause the continents to move in this way, .

Group activity 2
    Arrange several coloured layers of modelling clay into long, narrow strips. Lay one layer on top of the other. Hold the stack of clay stacks at each end and push the centre down quickly. Observe what happens. Using a second similar stack, warm the stack very gradually in a hot water bath. Again grasp the stack at both ends and
       press down very slowly and gently. Observe what happens and compare it with what occurred the first time.

       Repeat the tests, placing different kinds of forces on both ends of the stack. Try pulling both ends apart, pushing both ends together, or twisting both ends in opposite directions. In each case, observe and record the pattern produced. Examine diagrams of folding, bending, and rifting in rock formations. Try to simulate those formations 
using the layered modelling clay.

       Any other objects that can be pressed into distinct layers can be used. Carpet samples, towels, or even a layered chocolate bar would work. Slow, gradual pressure results in folding. Rapid changes in pressure causes cracking.


 
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Created
August 16, 2001

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