Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

Cracking Up: Plate Tectonics, Volcanism, and the Structure of the Earth

Plate Tectonic Resources

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Discovering Plate Boundaries
Excellent inquiry based activity through which students in upper elementary through college can make observations about the patterns of features on Earth’s surface – and draw conclusions about Earth’s tectonic plates.

This Dynamic Earth (Jacquelyne Kious and Robert Tilling, USGS)
Good online overview of plate tectonics, history, and people involved in the process.  Goes into moderate detail of processes for older students.

Jason Project: Tectonic Fury
Through research articles, inquiry-based activities, videos, games, and other multimedia, students investigate and analyze Earth's past, present, and future to unlock its geologic mysteries.

Texas Bureau of Economic Geology
Resources – Texas geologic, tectonic, oil resources, and geography maps (and others!) are available for purchase

United States Geologic Survey

Real Evidence of a Subducting Plate
The objective of this activity is to allow students to manipulate real data and understand how such data is interpreted and used in support of a theory. Students construct a 3D map of seismic data at a subduction zone plate boundary.

Perspective images of Slab Models
This site depicts 3D contour images of subducting slabs at subduction zones around the world.

Great information on earthquakes; current earthquake activity. Check out the educator’s resources and pages for the general public.  Current, recent, and historic earthquake data are available here in map and tabular form.

Virtual Courseware: Earthquake DLESE Reviewed Collection
Virtual Earthquake is an interactive web-based program designed to introduce the concepts of how an earthquake epicenter is located and how the Richter magnitude of an earthquake is determined.

Volcano World
Nice, broad collection of resources, from mythology to a glossary to images, current events and activities

Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program
The Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program seeks better understanding of all volcanoes through documenting their eruptions — small as well as large — during the past 10,000 years.

Hot Spot Interactive Activity
From TERC. Nice interactive with questions and assessments built into the student interaction.

Science Bulletins
Updates, articles, images, and information about current geologic events

TERC’s Exploring Earth
FANTASTIC interactive lessons for students about Earth, visualizations, and more.   
In particular, explore how we have modeled Earth’s internal structure using seismic waves (see Exploring Earth).

Resources for Teaching Geophysics (and Earth Science) in the 21st Century
GREAT animations and visualizations for plate tectonic, volcanism, seismicity… you have to poke around a bit to get at complete activities. Use the left nav bar to get visualizations
     Plate Tectonics

Planetary Core Temperature Simulation
This program simulates the evolution of a planet with respect to temperature.  This evolution depends on a number of factors including size of the planet, size of the planet's core, and amount of radiative heating.

Digital Library for Earth Systems Education
Lots of tried and true activities. You will have to poke around; don’t go here if it’s 2:00 am and you need an activity for the next morning.  You can search by type of product (activity, curriculum, laboratory, animation, etc), grade level, and standard.  All vetted by classroom teachers. Be sure to look at some of the undergrad materials; these may be appropriate for your classroom.

Earth Observing System
Great global datasets that can be plotted and compared.  Good for global change over the past few decades, not necessarily for long-term change.

My NASA Data
Earth and atmospheric data sets and classroom activities; primarily for middle school, but you might get some ideas here …

Videos by Dr. Richard Alley/ Penn State
Ring of Fire
Down Doo Bee Doo
Watch the Line
Rocking Around the Silicates
The Biggest Eruption in the Whole USA

American Geophysical Union

The American Geological Institutel
Great classroom lesson ideas and resources

Geological Society of America