In this lesson, our STEM MimioMaster Meredith Williams explains how she used MyStemKits Continent Kit and Soil layers kit review plate tectonics.
Note: Prepare one set of materials from each kit for each group of 3-4 students
- Antacid effervescent tablets, 2 per group of students
- Bowls, 1 per group of students
- Beakers, 1 per group of students
- Access to water
- Lab sheet created by the teacher
- Pencils, colored pencils
School level: 7-8
Goals: The students will –
- identify the Earth’s layers and examine convection currents
- Describe the scientific theory of plate tectonics
Time range: 40-50 mins
CPALMS Standards (Florida)
- SC.7.E.6.1 – Describe the layers of the solid Earth, including the lithosphere, the hot convective mantle, and dense metallic solid and liquid cores.
- SC.7.E.6.5 Explore the scientific theory of plate tectonics by describing how the movement of the Earth’s crustal plates causes both slow and rapid changes to the Earth’s surface, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and mountain building
Description of the lesson
First, we started by reviewing the layers of the geosphere discussing the mantle and convection currents. Each group of 3-4 students had the Layers of earth kit they were able to take apart to identify each layer and compare their sizes. The students were amazed at how thin and fragile the crust is compared to the rest of the layers. They were able to see how much larger the mantle was and fully understand where convection and magma movement occurs. We had some great discussions!
Next, we discussed the types of plate motion. Each student had a lab sheet and had to draw the three different types of boundaries: diverge, convergent and transform. We went over the characteristics of each boundary, and they were able to draw and identify each type.
Then we started the lab part of the lesson. Each group of students had a bowl with 3D printed continents from the Continents kit and a beaker which they had to fill with 500 ml of water. After pouring the water into the bowl, the students immediately noticed that the continents were floating; they made the connection that the crust “floats” on the mantle.
We then took an effervescent antacid tablet and placed it in water. The bubbling moved the continents, but the continents of all the groups moved differently. Students were able to see converging continents, diverging continents and some even had transformed borders. As we let the water settle, we discussed what each group saw and why these movements occur. We then took the second effervescent antacid tablet and added it to the water. We have seen the continents move and change again but differently this time. I explained that pressure builds up in various places around the world and although some places are more prone to seismic activity, it doesn’t always happen in the same place.
This lesson was a huge hit with both MyStemKits kits. The class was involved in great discussions and “aha” moments! Plate tectonics theory is a difficult concept for many to understand because it is such a slow process involving large masses of land that it is difficult for students to visualize. Visualizing 3D-printed continents moving on water helped students see what is actually going on in the Earth’s mantle and how it shifts and shifts the crust.
To see videos on each of these kits, click below:
Want to learn more about the award-winning MyStemKits and Robo 3D printer? Visit boxlight.com/products/stem-education.