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Earth's Interior & Plate Tectonics Unit Plan

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Earth's Interior & Plate Tectonics Unit Plan

Examining the relationship between the Earth's interior and exterior systems is a key part of understanding how the Earth has developed over its history. In Unit 2, students will begin to make these connections as they gather evidence to develop a model of the Earth's interior, its internal processes, and resulting continental plate movements.

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From Pangaea to the Present

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From Pangaea to the Present

If the continents moved over time, how an why could this have occurred? What can we investigate further that might provide clues about how and why the continents moved?

Alfred Wegener thought that the jigsaw puzzle appearance of continents,  as well as identical fossils and geographic formations, could be explained by the existence of a supercontinent in the ancient past that split apart over time. His theory, continental drift, was widely rejected and ridiculed because he could not explain how and why the massive continents could have moved. Additionally, Wegener also predicted that volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and mountain building could be explained by the continents moving.

In this unit, your task is to conduct investigations and collect evidence that will uncover the mystery of how and why the continents could have moved. Be sure to consider Wegener’s prediction that continental movement is associated with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and mountain building. 
 

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Intro to the Performance Task & Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift Activity (online puzzle)

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Intro to the Performance Task & Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift Activity (online puzzle)

The activities challenge students to identify and explain the evidence for Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift.

Investigating Plate Boundaries

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Investigating Plate Boundaries

Students use an online simulation to explore different types of plate boundaries and landforms created at plate boundaries.

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Modeling Earth's Interior Processes Lab

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Modeling Earth's Interior Processes Lab

Students learn about the driving force behind plate motion by making observations from models of Earth's interior and its processes.

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Plate Boundaries & Surface Features 5E Instructional Model Plan

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Plate Boundaries & Surface Features 5E Instructional Model Plan

Plate boundaries are associated with different geological processes such as earthquakes and to striking changes in Earth's crust, including mountains, volcanos, mid-ocean ridges, and ocean trenches. During this 5E sequence, students will investigate how the way plates move relative to each other is associated with a characteristic surface feature, providing an opportunity to refine their models of Plate Tectonics and to advance their understandings about the connections between the Earth's interior and surface features.

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What's Driving the Plates? 5E Instructional Model Plan

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What's Driving the Plates? 5E Instructional Model Plan

While Alfred Wegener produced evidence that the continents are in motion, he could not explain what forces could move them. In this 5E sequence students will explore models of Earth's interior processes in order to gain insight about what might be driving the motion of Earth's plates. Students will be able to explain the role of Earth's internal structure and properties in driving plate motion and crustal relationships.

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