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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 ...

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.

Detecting Cascadia's changing shape with GPS | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Research-grade Global Positioning Systems (GPS) allow students to deduce that Earth's crust is changing shape in measurable ways. From data gathered by EarthScope's Plate Boundary Observatory, students discover that the Pacific Northwest of the United States and coastal British Columbia — the Cascadia region - are geologically active: tectonic plates move and collide; they shift and buckle; continental crust deforms; regions warp; rocks crumple, bend, and will break.

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.

Plate Tectonics and the Scientific Process
Suki Smaglik, Laramie County Community College
Average inquiry level: Guided inquiry This is a series of scaffolded modules to guide students in understanding Plate Tectonic Theory, from its history to modern applications, and is designed for the asynchronous ...

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.

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 ...

Episodic tremor and slip: The Case of the Mystery Earthquakes | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Earthquakes in western Washington and Oregon are to be expected—the region lies in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Offshore, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate subducts under the North American plate, from northern California to British Columbia. The region, however, also experiences exotic seismicity— Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS).In this lesson, your students study seismic and GPS data from the region to recognize a pattern in which unusual tremors--with no surface earthquakes--coincide with jumps of GPS stations. This is ETS. Students model ductile and brittle behavior of the crust with lasagna noodles to understand how properties of materials depend on physical conditions. Finally, they assemble their knowledge of the data and models into an understanding of ETS in subduction zones and its relevance to the millions of residents in Cascadia.

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 ...

Alaska GPS Analysis of Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes
Beth Pratt-Sitaula, UNAVCO
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.