Plate Tectonics Box

In this box are an assortment of lessons to teach students about earthquakes and plate tectonics. As students progress through the unit, evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics accumulates. They begin by researching the 10 largest earthquakes over the last 30 years. This information is plotted on a world map along with information about the location of active volcanos and mid-ocean ridges. From there, students see patterns and can determine the boundaries of the Earth's plates. To learn what lies below the Earth's surface, students take a journey from the center of the Earth to the surface, then study how convection currents in the mantle may be partially responsible for driving the movement of the plates. With the knowledge that there are tectonic plates floating on convection currents, students put it all together and build models illustrating sea floor spreading, plate motion, and the types of plate boundaries. Students incorporate the fit of the continents, coal deposits, fossils, and more into their developing model. The unit concludes with a tour of plate boundaries around the globe - India, Japan, Iceland, and California. Two field trips - to the Marin Headlands and to the Lawrence Hall of Science - are described. A project where students build earthquake-proof towers is also provided.