One of my very favorite activities to do with students - in fact, I use it whenever I can because it provides an engaging way to get my students talking about plate tectonics, using new vocabulary, and flexing their creative muscles. If you haven't taught plate tectonics, this is a great lesson to open with - all the background you need for this activity is included!
This lesson includes an illustrated brief introduction to plate tectonics, followed by an activity that challenges students' understanding about the interactions between different tectonic plates, with a rubric for scoring. This would be appropriate for a lab activity or to challenge your students to make a poster of plate tectonic boundaries. Suggestions are offered for shortening the lab to about an hour or you can extend it to about two hours of class time.
This activity covers the following ideas related to plates and tectonic activity:
o Oceanic and continental plates are different (discuss differences in density, isostacy, etc)
o Plates have three kinds of boundaries: convergent, divergent, and transform boundaries
o Convection cells within the mantle “drive” plate movement
o Hot Spots are where there is a concentrated movement of mantle toward the crust that sometimes creates volcanic activity at the surface
o Show how mountains are wrinkles in the crust
o Trenches are created at convergent boundaries where a plate is subducting
o Rift valleys form where the continental crust is pulling apart
o The introduction for this can also include ideas about slab pull and slab push, and some students may add lots of details depending on what you emphasized in your introduction.
*** As always, I appreciate and look forward to your feedback! ***