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Plate Tectonics Activities


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Discover Plate Tectonics
Angela Daneshmand, Santiago Canyon College
This is a student-centered activity for a synchronous online course where students access google slides to complete during a video conferencing session (eg. Zoom) in break out rooms. Students will be introduced to ...

Introduction to Google Earth and Plate Tectonics
Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College
This activity introduces students to using Google Earth and adding layers to google earth, while re-enforcing plate tectonic concepts and evidence for plate tectonics. Outcomes: 1. Download Google Earth onto ...

Learning Assessment #1 - Plate Tectonics
Michelle Speta, University of Calgary; Leslie Reid, University of Calgary
An in-class activity that tests students' understanding of the basic concepts of plate tectonics.

Extra Terrestrial Plate Tectonics
Marshall Bartlett
Students decide whether plate tectonics is operating on another planet in our solar system. Requires students to integrate and process a large array of visual data regarding plate tectonic processes. Students feel ...

Fault Models for Teaching About Plate Tectonics
Modified from an activity by Larry Braile (Purdue University) by TOTLE (Teachers on the Leading Edge) Project and further improved by ShakeAlert.
This short interactive activity has learners to manipulate fault blocks to better understand different types of earthquake-generating faults in different tectonic settings--extensional, convergent, and strike-slip. Fault models aid in visualizing and understanding faulting and plate motions because the instructor and their students can manipulate a three-dimensional model for a true hands-on experience.

Plate Tectonics Basics 1
Bob Stern, The University of Texas at Dallas
Students sketch cross section beneath mid-ocean ridge and subduction zone before and after viewing animation.

Plate Tectonics with Maps and Spreadsheets
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students learn about plate tectonic boundaries, earthquakes in a subducting slab, and volcanic hotspot tracks.

Alaska GPS Analysis of Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes
Beth Pratt-Sitaula, EarthScope Consortium
This activity introduces students to high precision GPS as it is used in geoscience research. Students build "gumdrop" GPS units and study data from three Alaska GPS stations from the Plate Boundary Observatory network. They learn how Alaska's south central region is "locked and loading" as the Pacific Plate pushes into North America and builds up energy that will be released in the future in other earthquakes such as the 1964 Alaska earthquake.

Measuring Plate Motion with GPS: Iceland | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, EarthScope Consortium
This lesson teaches middle and high school students to understand the architecture of GPS—from satellites to research quality stations on the ground. This is done with physical models and a presentation. Then students learn to interpret data for the station's position through time ("time series plots"). Students represent time series data as velocity vectors and add the vectors to create a total horizontal velocity vector. They apply their skills to discover that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is rifting Iceland. They cement and expand their understanding of GPS data with an abstraction using cars and maps. Finally, they explore GPS vectors in the context of global plate tectonics.

The science behind Plate Tectonics
John Weber, Grand Valley State University
Plate tectonics is a quantitative, robust and testable, geologic model describing the surface motions of Earth's outer skin. It is based on real data and assumptions, and built using the scientific method. New ...