Teaching Notes

Example Output

Example Output
Map and Data displayed on My World GISTM map. Click the image for larger view.

Sample of My World Project File in Visualize mode, showing plate boundaries by type, continental outlines and lines of latitude and longitude.

Grade Level

The activity is most appropriate for students in grades 7-10.

Learning Goals

After completing this chapter, students will be able to:


My World GIS is a powerful tool that allows students to create projects that display different types of geographic information. As students add data to their maps, they visualize and analyze the distribution of data for trends, patterns, etc. By using the datasets offered in this chapter, students create a compelling argument for the theory of plate tectonics. The data and tools available in My World GIS can also be used throughout an Earth System Science or Geography curriculum, such as in units on geologic activity, hydrology, and climate.

Background Information

Prerequisite knowledge:

This chapter provides a variety of datasets to be used in a My World GIS project to show the distribution of various strands of evidence that support the theory of plate tectonics. The Tool and Data section of this chapter discusses where the data comes from and how it is integrated into the My World GIS program.

Instructional Strategies

Students should work on this chapter where they have access to computers and by themselves or in teams of two. Using a teacher led-discussion, brainstorm the types of evidence that are available to support the theory of plate tectonics. While working with each layer of data in My World GIS, take the time to discuss the type and distribution of the evidence.

The content of this chapter may also be used in conjunction with the following instructional strategies for plate tectonics; other supplemental resources are listed at the bottom of the page.

Evidence for Plate Tectonics Teaching Box

A Data Rich Exercise for Discovering Plate Boundary Processes, Sawyer D.S., et al. Journal of Geoscience Education, Vol.53, No.1, January, 2005.

Learning Contexts

The content of this chapter can be used at any point within a unit on plate tectonics. It would work well as an investigative introductory chapter, as an activity that supports the unit content, or as a culminating activity.

Science Standards

The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:

Grades 5-8

Grades 9-12

Geography Standards

The following U.S. National Geography Standards are supported by this chapter:

Time Required

Two 45-minute periods.

Other Resources

Background Information and Animations:
SERC visualization collection - Plate Tectonic Movementa large collection of supplemental materials.
Plate Tectonicsanimated images to show motion of plates.
This Dynamic Eartha USGS background resource.
Completed My World Project file
The complete project file for this activity is located here: Evidence.m3vz ( 7.7MB May18 10). This file has all of the layers needed to complete the project as well as some additional optional layers for further exploration. Teachers may decide to use this file, rather than have students construct their own maps in Parts 3 and 4. Right-click on a PC, or control-click on a Mac, to download the file.

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