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This lesson provided by:
Author:Bruce Saunders
System: Shelby County
School: Shelby County Board Of Education
Lesson Plan ID: 23949

Plate Tectonics


This lesson culminates the hypothesis of Continental Drift and Sea floor Spreading into the Plate Tectonic Theory. The students will be able to recognize that our planet is ever changing. They should be able to analyze the forces which create destruction on our planet are directly related to its shifting surface.
This lesson plan was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science, GEMS Project funded by the Malone Family Foundation.

Content Standard(s):
SC(9-12) Physical Science7. Relate velocity, acceleration, and kinetic energy to mass, distance, force, and time.
SC(9-12) Physical Science8. Relate the law of conservation of energy to transformations of potential energy, kinetic energy, and thermal energy.
SC(9-12) Earth and Space Elective7. Explain techniques for determining the age and composition of Earth and the universe.
SC(9-12) Geology Elective1. Describe Earth's layers, including the lithosphere, asthenosphere, outer core, and inner core.
SC(9-12) Geology Elective2. Relate the concept of equilibrium to geological processes, including plate tectonics and stream flow.
SC(9-12) Geology Elective3. Explain natural phenomena that shape the surface of Earth, including rock cycles, plate motions and interactions, erosion and deposition, volcanism, earthquakes, weathering, and tides.
SC(9-12) Geology Elective4. Describe the topography of the sea floor and the continents.
SC(9-12) Geology Elective10. Explain the mechanism of plate tectonics.
SC(9-12) Marine Biology Elective3. Describe physical characteristics of oceans, including topography of the ocean floor, plate tectonics, wave motion, depth, and pressure.
Local/National Standards:

National Science Standards by the National Academy of Science D-1, D-3, G-3

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Explain the Theory of Plate Tectonics. Describe lithospheric plates. Identify the three types of plate boundaries. Describe the Earth's layers using the terms lithosphere, asthenosphere, outer core, and inner core.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Define: oceanic ridge, rift valley, seafloor spreading, subduction zone, trench, continental volcanic arc, volcanic island arc

Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 61 to 90 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

hard boiled eggs, colored pencils, journals,

Technology Resources Needed:

LCD Projector and computer


The teacher needs to make sure the eggs are properly boiled. This lesson ends to get a bit messy. Ensure you have graphics or picture to support the vocabulary to assist the visual learner.

1.)1)Place the students in collaborative groups. 2)Hand each of them a noiled egg. 3)Have the drop the egg from no more the 12 inches off their desk, this is in order to crakc the shell but not destroy the egg. 4)Ask students if the egg reminds them of anything. The egg can be seen as a tiny model of Earth. The thin eggshell is analogous to Earth’s crust, divided into plates. Within the shell is the firm mantle. Have students move the pieces of shell around. They should notice how the shell buckles in some places and exposes “mantle” in other places. This movement is analogous to the movement of Earth’s crust. However, Earth’s movement results in the formation of mountains, earthquakes, and new ocean floor.

2.)Have students make a concept map using the term plate tectonics as the starting point. All the vocabulary terms in this section should be used.

3.)Have students copy the table. After they read, students will compare the three types of plate boundaries by completing the table.
(About Geology)
This website has information on Plate Tectonics

4.)Have students read the information on types of plate boundaries and then try to form a mental picture of each type of boundary. Ask: In which type of boundary do the plates move without changing the lithosphere? (transform fault boundary)
Website has links to various websites on Plate Tectonics

5.)This website has a quizzes on Plate Tectonics. It can be used as an alternative form of assessment if the students are in collaborative groups
(About Geology)

Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download. plate tectonic concept map.pdf
plate_tectonics pic.rtf
Assessment Strategies:

To assess students’ knowledge of material, have them draw diagrams of the three types of plate boundaries. Each diagram should have a caption describing the movement of the plates. The teacher could use the website in step 5 of the procedures.


Have the students investigate the East African Rift Valley. See if they can associate the present day boundary movement to what the future may hold in 50,000,000 years.


Have students use any materials they wish, such as blocks of wood, to illustrate the plate movements in the three types of boundaries.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

Hosted by Alabama Supercomputer Authority
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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