Diamond Impurities and Earth's Tectonic History

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

Most people prefer their diamonds pure and free from imperfections. But a study of more than 4,000 inclusions (pockets of impurities) found in diamonds has revealed that Earth’s plate tectonic history began much earlier than scientists originally thought.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • How and where do diamonds form?
  • Define plate tectonics.
  • What is the Wilson Cycle?
  • How do diamond impurities form? What data are contained in diamond impurities?
  • How do we know the age of the diamonds?
  • To summarize, how can diamonds tell us about plate tectonic history?
  • What is the significance of this new discovery?

Compiled July 28, 2011, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

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