Plate Tectonic - Plate Tectonics (3)
Post Lab 

  • Creating a myth about stress inside the Earth.
  • Understanding that the plates have moved through time and are still moving.
  • earthquake
  • plate tectonics
  • plates
  • stress
  • volcano
  • worksheet

Students create a story about the Earth’s interior

The interior structure of the Earth


Before the advent of modern science, people created stories to explain the world around them. These myths and legends often used supernatural explanations to explain natural phenomena. The eruption of a volcano might reflect the anger of a particular deity, or a hunger monster.

The concept of stress is very difficult for students to understand. In this exercise the students will use their imaginations to explain the origin of stress in the Earth without using science. In this imaginary version of plate tectonics, "Pressuretron" pushes the surface of the Earth apart, while "Consumatron "eats" or gets the surface of the Earth to collide.

  1. Introduce the exercise to the students. Tell them that they are going to create a myth to explain stress. Introduce the characters of Pressuretron and Consumatron. Draw diagram A, on the board (B is an example of a final drawing). Have the students creatively develop their own versions of Pressuretron and Consumatron. Do not offer too many suggestions or constraints.
  2. Explain to the class that when Pressuretron pushes upward from the inside of the Earth, he causes the crust to move apart (diverging plate boundaries) above him. This causes volcanoes to form. Consumatron eats the crust (convergent plate boundaries) that Pressuretron pushes toward him/her/it. This causes earthquakes to occur.
  3. Have the students draw the following on the diagram:
    1. Draw Pressuretron and Consumatron inside of the earth
    2. Draw a circle where the crust moves apart (diverges)
    3. Draw a triangle where the crust is eaten (converges)
  4. When completed, the students' pictures should show cartoon characters creating forces inside of the Earth that control what happens on the outside. This will help them grasp the idea that real internal Earth processes, such as convection are responsible for much of what happens on the surface. You may wish to remind the class that in some locations, subsurface forces cause the crust to diverge (be "pulled apart). In other locations these forces cause crustal convergence (consumption of the plate's boundary), or a sideways moving shearing motion (transform plate boundary).

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