Plate Tectonics

Creating Geological Time Scale Models with CER

In this activity students will make claims prior to seeing any data and complete a mapping activity that creates a geological time scale to help them use evidence to support or refute their claims. 

This classroom exercise is intended to be an introductory Earth Science activity to prepare students to look at time on the large scale and to discuss plate tectonics and rock records.

Mountain Building: Exploring Topography Along Plate Boundaries with GeoMapApp

GeoMapApp is a free, map-based data exploration and visualization tool (see  Using this tool, we can explore how comparison of topography along different boundaries, both ancient and active, can provide a means for students to grasp the immense spatial scales involved in earth processes.

Discovering Plate Boundaries

Discovering Plate Boundaries (DPB) is a data rich exercise to help students discover the processes that occur at plate tectonic boundaries.  DPB has been used with students from 5th grade to university level.  It works well over this wide range because it requires the students to observe and classify data.  It does not require prior knowledge of plate tectonics.  The exercise is built around global data maps.

Subduction Zone Geometry in Three Dimensions: Using authentic data to explore relationships between earthquakes, volcanoes, and plates at convergent margins

The ability to visualize features of the Earth in three-dimensional space, and to conceptualize how these features change over long timescales, is a crucial skill for geoscientists. Here I present an exercise that is specifically designed to build geometrical visualization skills while exposing students to authentic real-time data.

Plate Boundary Research Project

Students will become experts on the plate tectonics of a specific region, by either researching volcanic activity or earthquake activity associated with the tectonic activity of a specific region. 

Students will use Diigo, a social bookmarking site, to collaborate on and manage their research online. 

Students will also create and deliver a 15 minute oral presentation using MS Powerpoint or Google Presenter to share what they have learned and help them manage the flow of their presentation.

Students will:

Discovering Plate Boundaries - a Suggested Modification

The "Discovering Plate Boundaries" exercise:, developed by Dale Sawyer at Rice University, requires students to examine global maps and observe, describe, and classify data. No prior knowledge of plate tectonics, geography, or Earth science is required for students. This activity has been popular in middle school, high school, and university classrooms, at the beginning or the end of a tectonics unit.