Evidence for
Plate Tectonics (6-8)
Overview: About this teaching box

This Teaching Box is an online assembly of interrelated learning concepts that focuses on finding the evidence for plate tectonics using digital resources, education standards, and comprehensive lesson plans . It is meant to provide an inquiry-based exploration of each of three lines of evidence:

For each line of evidence there is a map showing supporting concepts and their associated standards, pre-conceptions, lessons organized into teachable units, and a section describing the resources used in the box for ready reference.

An introductory activity is designed to engage the students and to provide a segue into the theory first proposed by Alfred Wegener. 

At the end of this unit on Exploring the Evidence for Plate Tectonics, students will have constructed an understanding of the three lines of evidence. An optional culminating activity, In Support of Wegener, is included that can be used to assess this understanding. 

As an understanding of latitude and longitude is essential for several of the activities, an optional teaching unit on this topic is also included.

Goals of the teaching box: These activities are presented in a way as to emphasize the process of science – how evidence is gathered and hypotheses are tested. Guided inquiry has been used throughout, and where possible, we have tried to replicate the discoveries of science that have led to our understanding of plate tectonics. Taken as a whole, the activities within the teaching box demonstrate the inter-relatedness of Earth’s processes and the lines of evidence, thus reinforcing the overarching concept: the Earth is a system.

Appropriate for: Middle school, grades 6-8

Time to complete: Several pathways are offered within each topic area, so that teachers can select a suite of lessons that best serves their classrooms. The introduction, all four topics, and the culminating activity can be covered in as few as 18 class periods and can be expanded to as many as 28 class periods.

Authors of Evidence for Plate Tectonics teaching box : This box was created during the summer of 2004 as part of a pilot project by the following professionals from the San Francisco Bay area of California:

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