Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snack Tectonics

This week in my classroom we studied plate tectonics. My theory about science is that "talking" about concepts is usually about as exciting as watching paint peel, so I generally try to find something a little more engaging that the kids will have some fun with. It generally makes it harder for them to forget the concept.

Anyway, we did "snack tectonics", a model that simulated the way that plates interact at their boundaries.

The materials we used were:

1) Chocolate frosting=asthenosphere (mantle): the viscous layer on which the plates ride.

2) Graham cracker=continental crust (thin, brittle lithospheric layer).

3) Fruit roll-up=oceanic crust (thin, dense (stretchy) lithospheric layer).

4) Wax paper (to contain the mess).

We simulated the following plate boundary interactions:

*Divergent Boundary (plates moving away from one another--the boundary at which rift valleys are formed). The mid-atlantic ridge and the Great Rift Valley in eastern Africa are two examples of divergent boundaries.

*Convergent Boundary (plates moving toward one another). This is the boundary at which mountain ranges and volcanoes can form.
*Transform (Sliding) Boundary (plates sliding past one another). The San Andreas Fault is an example of this type of boundary. Earthquakes tend to occur along transform boundaries.

When we finished the simulations, everyone got to eat their "snack". We had fun :)

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