Geology Map Observations
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:
How the activity is situated in the course:
National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:
Minnesota State Standards (8th grade Science)
History and Nature of Science - Scientific World View
The student will understand that science is a way of knowing about the world that is characterized by empirical criteria, logical argument and skeptical review. The student will explain the development, usefulness and limitations of scientific models in the explanation and prediction of natural phenomena.
History and Nature of Science - Scientific Inquiry
The student will understand that scientific inquiry is used by scientists to investigate the natural world in systematic ways.
1. The student will know that scientific investigations involve the common elements of systematic observations, the careful collection of relevant evidence, logical reasoning and innovation in developing hypotheses and explanations.
2. The student will describe how scientists can conduct investigations in a simple system and make generalizations to more complex systems.
Earth and Space Science - Earth Structure and Processes
The student will identify Earth's composition, structure and processes.
1. The student will explain how earthquakes, volcanoes, sea-floor spreading and mountain building are evidence of the movement of crustal plates.
2. The student will describe how features on the Earth's surface are created and constantly changing through a combination of slow and rapid processes of weathering, erosion, sediment deposition, landslides, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
National Standards (5-8 Science Content Standards)
Content Standard A
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Develop Descriptions, Explanations, Predictions, And Model Using Evidence
Think Critically And Logically To Make The Relationships Between Evidence And Explanations.
Recognize And Analyze Alternative Explanations And Predictions
Communicate Scientific Procedures And Explanations
Understandings about scientific inquiry
Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.
Content Standard D
Structure of the earth system
The solid earth is layered with a lithosphere; hot, convecting mantle; and dense, metallic core.
Lithospheric plates on the scales of continents and oceans constantly move at rates of centimeters per year in response to movements in the mantle. Major geological events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, result from these plate motions.
Landforms are the result of a combination of constructive and destructive forces. Constructive forces include crustal deformation, volcanic eruption, and deposition of sediment, while destructive forces include weathering and erosion.
The earth processes we see today, including erosion, movement of lithospheric plates, and changes in atmospheric composition, are similar to those that occurred in the past. Earth history is also influenced by occasional catastrophes, such as the impact of an asteroid or comet.
Content/concepts goals for this activity:
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:
Other skills goals for this activity:
Description of the activity/assignment
- This is a lesson that asks students to create the current tectonic plate boundaries using world maps of earthquakes, volcanoes, topography, and sea-floor age. It is a modification of a lesson titled Discovering Plate Boundaries designed by Dale S. Sawyer of Rice University in Houston, Texas. This lesson has taken advantage of the maps provided by Sawyer as well as the 'jigsaw' method of group collaboration. However, substantial changes have been made to make it appropriate to middle school students. It is now titled "Geology Map Observations" and it incorporates best practices in inquiry science education as well as techniques appropriate for English Language Learners (ELL).
The lesson has three parts that in total take 3 50-minute class periods or 2 1 1/2 hour block classes. Part one asks students to get into groups of 3-4 and become 'experts' on a particular map type. They look at one of the maps on geography, volcanology, seismology or geochronology. They are asked to make observations about the map as well as become familiar with the key and the type of information on the map. In the second part, the students 'jigsaw' and get into groups where each person is an expert in a different map. They share their observations with their group and find similarities among the observations. The students are then given a copy of the world and asked to draw in the plate boundaries. In part 3 each group is presenting where they think the plate boundaries are located. The worksheets created for this lesson guide students through the process as well as give examples of the type of observations they should be making. This lesson is the first in a sequence of lessons on plate tectonics where students in the end will construct a map, which includes the type and location of the major plate boundaries.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 41kB May11 05)
- Instructors Notes (Microsoft Word 43kB May11 05)
- Solution Set (Excel 29kB May11 05)
- Semantic feature analysis (Excel 15kB May11 05)
- Plate boundryc notes-student form (Excel 14kB May11 05)
- Plate Boundary Notes-Key (Excel 14kB May11 05)
- Alternative lesson 1: Making the map (Microsoft Word 44kB May11 05)
- Alternative lesson 3: Map Boundries (Microsoft Word 34kB May11 05)
Mantel convection, convergent boundaries visualization: http://mtv.concord.org/curriculum/models.html
Pangaea visualization: http://www.scotese.com/pangeanim.htm
Plate boundary visualization: http://education.sdsc.edu/optiputer/teachers/platemovement.html
Write-on student desk maps: http://www.geo-klett.com/deskmaps/deskMaps.php
Controlled Vocabulary Terms
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity:Jigsaw
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Plate Tectonics
Topics: Solid Earth:Tectonics, Earth surface