Ocean Crust Ages Lecture Tutorial

Karen M. Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island

Jessica J. Smay, San Jose City College

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/activity_review.html.

This page first made public: Feb 17, 2009

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


This assignment is done by pairs of students in class after a short introductory lecture on divergent boundaries. Students work through the worksheet as it guides them towards more conceptually-difficult questions based on a map of the ocean crust ages of the Atlantic Ocean. Students confront their misconceptions and come away with a more scientifically-correct understanding of the pattern of ages of the ocean crust.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to explain ocean crust ages and their pattern as a result of divergent boundaries, and then make interpretations based on the ages. Higher-order thinking skills include critical thinking and simple map reading. An additional skill is working in groups.

Context for Use

This activity can be used in an introductory physical geology or oceanography course of any size with no special equipment necessary. Students should have a basic understanding of divergent boundaries. Students in groups complete this 10-15 minute Lecture Tutorial worksheet after a short lecture on the topic during class. Lecture Tutorials are most effective when used frequently in a course. Read more about how to use Lecture Tutorials.

Description and Teaching Materials

Ocean Crust Ages Lecture Tutorial worksheet (Acrobat (PDF) 142kB Jul13 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

For full discussion of how to use Lecture Tutorials, please check the Lecture Tutorials Main Page


Lecture Tutorial worksheets are designed to help student confront their misconceptions, but generally they are not graded. Selected questions are reviewed and answered by the instructor during class. Rather than grade the Lecture Tutorials, exam questions covering that material can be used as assessment.

References and Resources

For resources, please check the Lecture Tutorials References Page