ALEX Classroom Resource


Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea

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Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea


Content Source:

Science NetLinks
Type: Lesson/Unit Plan


The purpose of this lesson is for students to explore how an indefatigable scientist used her knowledge of math and map making to create a map of the ocean floor, confirming the theory of continental drift (plate tectonics). This lesson uses a book called Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, written by Robert Burleigh with illustrations by Raúl Colón. In this illustrated biography, Burleigh tells the story of Marie Tharpe’s imagination and perseverance and shares the story of this pioneering female scientist, who was the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor. Her map helped confirm the theory of plate tectonics to the scientific community. 

Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
16 ) Describe patterns of Earth's features on land and in the ocean using data from maps (e.g., topographic maps of Earth's land and ocean floor; maps of locations of mountains, continental boundaries, volcanoes, and earthquakes).

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Describe patterns of Earth's features on land using data from maps.
  • Describe patterns of Earth's features in the ocean using data from maps.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • patterns
  • data
  • structures
  • features
  • topographical
  • continental boundaries
  • deep ocean trench
  • ocean floor
  • volcanoes
  • mountains
  • earthquakes
Students know:
  • Locations of mountain ranges, deep ocean trenches, ocean floor structures, earthquakes, and volcanoes occur in patterns.
  • Volcanoes and earthquakes occur in bands that are often along the boundaries between continents and oceans.
  • Major mountain chains form inside continents or near their edges.
Students are able to:
  • Organize data using graphical displays from maps of Earth's features.
  • Articulate patterns that can be used as evidence to describe Earth's features on land and in the ocean using maps.
  • Use logical reasoning based on the organized data to make sense of and describe the patterns in Earth's features.
Students understand that:
  • Earth's features occur in patterns.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Water and Landforms

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.4.16- Use a map key to identify land and water features on a map.

Tags: continental drift, map, Marie Tharpe, ocean, plate tectonics, Raul Colon, Robert Burleigh, Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea
License Type: Custom Permission Type
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  This resource provided by:  
Author: Stephanie Carver