Intro to Tectonics


Intro to Tectonics (3rd-5th)

This lesson is an introduction to plate tectonics and the structure of the earth. Students consider how mountains are formed and work to construct a puzzle model of Pangea. After having time to build and revise their model, students analyze a modern-day map of the tectonic plates, model the plate boundaries using their hands, and then return to the opening question about mountain formation.

SKU: EarSci-IntTect Category: Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Lesson Overview

Students will:

  • Consider how mountains are formed
  • Construct a model of Pangea using geology and the fossil record
  • Analyze a tectonic plate map and with the aid of another model (putty and tiles) students put together explanations for mountain formation
  • Review STEM Career Pathways related to tectonics

Lesson Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Construct a model of a supercontinent using geology and the fossil record
  • Analyze a tectonic plate map and use models to explain map features

This lesson is aligned with these Next Generation Science (NGS) Standards.

Standards Covered

Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI)

ESS1.C The history of planet Earth

  • (3rd – 5th) Certain features on Earth can be used to order events that have occurred in a landscape.

ESS2.B Plate tectonics and large-scale system interactions

  • (3rd – 5th) Earth’s physical features occur in patterns, as do earthquakes and volcanoes. Maps can be used to locate features and determine patterns in those events.

Science & Engineering Practice (SEP) 

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • (3rd – 5th ) Construct an explanation of observed relationships (e.g., the distribution of plants in the backyard).

Crosscutting Concept (CCC)

Stability and Change

  • (3rd – 5th) Some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time will eventually change.
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