4. Convection in a Pan

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Summary
What drives the motion of the Earth’s tectonic plates? Partly, it is convection, the process by which heat energy is transferred by currents in a liquid or gas. Convection currents within the mantle carry tectonic plates along with the slowly moving mantle like giant rafts carried along by a current in a river. To help students understand this idea, soapy water in a pie pan is heated from below and convections currents can be observed forming and moving in the soapy water. Several prelude demonstrations help students recognize that hot things rise and cold things sink.

Objectives
Can recognize that hot things rise and cold things sink.
Can describe and explain the process of convection.
Can investigate and illustrate convection currents in a pan of soapy water.
Can correlate convection currents in the pan of water to convection currents in the Earth’s mantle.
Can diagram convection currents in the Earth’s mantle.

Vocabulary

Mantle
Lithosphere
Crust
Convection
Heat

Attachment Size
4convection_in_a_pan.doc 78 KB
convection_handout.doc 28.5 KB