Tectonics is a series of six Web GIS investigations designed to augment a traditional existing middle school Earth science curriculum. The investigations are aligned to Disciplinary Core Ideas: Earth and Space Science from the National Research Council’s (2012) Framework for K-12 Science Education ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large Scale System Interactions. The learning activities are also aligned to tectonics benchmark ideas articulated in the AAAS Project 2061 (2007) Atlas of Science Literacy. A Web GIS is also provided for open-ended tectonics investigations for students. Below is a brief overview of the investigations:
Geohazards and Me: What geologic hazards exist near me? Which plate boundary is closest to me?
In this investigation, students develop a personnel connection to geologic hazards. They discover where the most recent earthquake occurred near their geographic location and where the nearest volcano is located. They also investigate how geologic hazards are distributed around the globe and infer how this is related to plate tectonics.
How do we recognize plate boundaries?
In this investigation, students use tectonics data to identify the eastern and western boundaries of the North American Plate. They analyze earthquake epicenter and volcano data to determine the boundaries of the North American Plate and analyze the movement of the surrounding plates to determine plate boundary types (divergent, convergent, or transform).
How does thermal energy move around the Earth?
In this investigation, students locate areas where heat escapes from the Earth’s interior from the hot mantle. They investigate how surface heat flow (loss) is distributed around the Earth and its relationship to plate boundaries. They also explore geologic features on the Earth’s surface which are associated with heat loss.
What happens when plates diverge?
In this investigation, students locate different divergent boundaries and study their history. They investigate how tectonic strains are accommodated at the plate boundary by examining earthquake and fault data and calculating the half-spreading rate of a plate boundary. They also investigate features of passive margins, areas along divergent boundaries where continental crust joins oceanic crust.
What happens when plates move sideways past each other?
In this investigation, students locate oceanic and continental transform boundaries and study their history. They investigate an oceanic transform fault within the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture zone, using seismic and age of the ocean floor data. They also investigate a continental transform boundary, the San Andreas Fault zone, and the seismic hazards associated with living in this area using earthquake data and historical photographs.
What happens when plates collide?
In this investigation, students analyze the distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes to learn about plate collision at an ocean-ocean subduction zone. They determine the inclination of subducted plates along convergent plate boundaries, and discover the relationship between the Aleutian Islands, volcanoes, and subduction zone types. In addition, they learn about the types of landforms created by continents colliding at convergent zones.