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This NGSS middle school plate tectonics lab stations activity incorporates earthquakes, convection currents, volcanoes and even hot spots to gather evidence to develop a deeper understanding of the strand MS-ESS2 Earth Systems. It is a HIGHLY ENGAGING lesson that rotates students through 5 stations related to plate tectonics and how the earth is constantly cycling Earth’s materials and moving energy!!!
In this activity, students:
There is a little bit of prep work required, but I promise you it will be worth it!! An answer key is included for class review or easy grading! This resource is best taught after students have a general understanding of the layers of the earth (crust, mantle, core.) Each station takes 8-10 minutes depending on your students’ needs.
Materials List and Prep:
Station 1 – Go With the Flow: hot plate, food coloring, handful of wood chips (or any sample that floats), large volume beaker, stack of books equal height of the hot plate placed next to it
Station 2 – Finding Clues, The Location of Earthquakes and Volcanoes: blue and red markers for each student
Station 3 – Hot Spots - Volcanoes: red marker and a roll of paper towel
Station 4 – Volcanoes – Creating and Evaluating a 3D Model: 50 ml beaker, graduated cylinder (use clay to wrap around it and make it look like a volcano!), vinegar, baking soda, spoon, red food coloring, paper towels for clean up
Station 5 – Earth’s Mantle – Stretch Your Imagination: Silly Putty or similar
Alignment to NGSS
DCI - ESS2.A: Earth’s Materials and Systems
CCC - Energy and Matter
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