Discovering Plate Boundaries

Dale Sawyer, Rice University, Department of Earth Science

Discovering Plate Boundaries is based on 5 world maps containing earthquake, volcano, topography, satellite gravity, and seafloor age data. The novel aspect of the exercise is the "jigsaw" manner in which student groups access the maps and use them to discover, classify, and describe plate boundary types. The exercise is based only on observation and description, which makes it useful at a wide variety of levels; it has been used successfully in 5th grade classes, as well as in non-major earth science classes. The exercise is based on a set of wall maps that are not consumed during the exercise. Other inexpensive materials required include two 11x17 black and white copies per student and colored pencils. Because the exercise is not based on student access to the web, it is not dependent on classroom technology equipment. The exercise takes three 50-minute class periods to complete, and involves the students in making presentations to one another in small groups as well as to the whole class. The students come away from the exercise with knowledge of the key features of each type of plate boundary and a sense of why each looks and acts the way it does.

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Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Structural Geology
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Datasets and Tools:Datasets with Teaching Activities, Datasets, Activities:Lab Activity
Inquiry Level: Step-By-Step Instruction
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14), College Upper (15-16), High School (9-12), Middle (6-8), Intermediate (3-5)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Use: Illustrating concepts and ideas, Enabling Student Investigation:Analyze published data
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Structural Geology