Begin with the “Profile Game.” It allows a student to familiarize himself/herself with the software and the information that is contained within it. Then use the “Map” activity. If the students have been introduced to the software by using the “Profile Game,” you can let them watch the profile tutorial and independently explore the program. Our experiences have shown that for the average middle school level class, it is best to go through the tutorial as a group (this works well if one of your computers is hooked up to a projector or a television set.) The “Geography Game” allows students to test their knowledge of geographical locations, from the very simple to the very specific. The basic level of testing for knowledge of continents, countries, oceans, and seas is very useful in discovering what a student knows about geographical locations. This would be especially useful to EarthKAM students, as it is important for them to recognize major geographical features over which the camera passes.
*To become familiar with the tools and information stored in this database.
*To discover properties of the Earth as exposed by utilizing data to which the students would otherwise not have access.
*To explore geologic features of the Earth,
and observe how the placement of earthquakes and volcanoes outline the
crustal boundaries of tectonic plates.
How does this fit in with the California State Science Standards?
Grade 6: Plate Tectonics and Earth's Structure
1. Plate tectonics accounts for important features of Earth's surface and major geologic events. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know evidence of plate tectonics is derived from the fit of the continents;the location of earthquakes, volcanoes, and mid-ocean ridges; and the distribution of fossils, rock types, and ancient climatic zones.
e. Students know major geologic events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, result from plate motions.
f. Students know how to explain major features of California geology (including mountains faults, and volcanoes) in terms of plate tectonics.
Grades 9-12: Dynamic Earth Processes
3. Plate tectonics operating over geologic time has changed the patterns of land, sea, and mountains on Earth's surface. As the basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know features of the ocean floor (magnetic patterns, age, and sea-floor topography) provide evidence of plate tectonics.
b. Students know the principal structures that form at the threedifferent kinds of plate boundaries.
d. Students know why and how earthquakes occur and the scales used to measure their intensity and magnitude.
f.* Students know the explanation for the location and properties ofvolcanoes that are due to hot spots and the explanation for those that are due to subduction.
How does interaction of the Earth’s tectonic plates result in geologic activity and where does this activity occur? How does the data support the theory of plate tectonics?
Materials for each team:
*CD ROM "Our Dynamic Planet"
*National Geographic Map, "The Earth's Fractured Surface" or equivalent map
*Photocopy of the "Physiographic Chart of the Seafloor" or equivalent map
*Student activity sheets
Setting the stage:
Discuss with students that geologists have been collecting data about the Earth's surface features, including data from volcanoes and earthquakes, and this real Earth data is used in the Our Dynamic Planet software. Warn the students that this program is very powerful, but will crash easily on less powerful computers or those with very little memory. If students push buttons repeatedly, it will not cause the program to run faster, but will probably crash the machine.
We began with the profile game. We found it most effective to go though the tutorial as a class. We went over sample #1 as a group and then the students returned to their group computers to work on sample #2. The students use the “Profile Game” to identify unknown features. The students investigate unknown features using the programs' tools, and then answer questions about that feature. A main element of the Our Dynamic Planetsoftware is the “Map” activity. This activity contains a vast amount of data that is easily accessible by students. It also has an excellent tutorial movie. Some of the databases that students can access include elevation, earthquakes, and volcanoes. In the visual display for the “Map” activity, students are shown a Mercator projection of the world and are able to zoom in on any section. They can use the profile tool to draw a line across a feature they are interested in examining in profile view. The profile shows up beneath the map. The tutorial does an excellent job of explaining what information is shown in the profile. Since the map activity contains so many features, you may want to view only the beginning part of the tutorial movie. Again, we suggest doing this as a class. The students were given several handouts, including student activity sheets, a National Geographic map, and a photocopy of the "Physiographic Chart of the Seafloor". Any equivalent maps will suffice. In one implementation, we followed thisprotocol and had the students use the student activity sheets.
In a second implementation, we reviewed the map activity with a demonstration of the earthquake database and profile tool. We had the groups complete an activity using the profile tool and the base map. We asked students to draw profiles of five convergent, five divergent, and two transform margins. The margin types were reviewed at the end of the period.
asked the students to incorporate several interesting profiles in their
Profile #1 create a profile from the tip of India (Indian Ocean) to the middle of Siberia (across the Himalayas). We wanted the students to see how a profile of a collisional boundary would appear.
Profile #2 create a profile from the Pacific Ocean offshore from Peru to the Atlantic Ocean, off Brazil (across South America). This profile was useful in that the students could really see how the continental lithosphere floats higher than oceanic lithosphere. They also saw a subduction zone in the west and a passive margin in the east.
Profile #3 create a profile across the United States, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Again, students could see how the continental lithosphere floats higher than the oceanic lithosphere, and depending on where they made their profile, they could find other interesting tectonic features in North America.
Profile #4 create a profile across the Atlantic Ocean. We wanted the students to see how a mid- ocean ridge appeared in profile. Students referred to it as an underwater mountain range.
Bringing it together:Class
After the students have become familiar with the materials, ask them to share some of the features they have mapped. Using the blackboard, compare oceanic plates and continental plates.
Diagrams of margins draw by students, and answers that show an understanding of what is occurring at each type of margin.
Suggestions: Bump virtual memory up to 32 Mb, chose not to have 1000's of colors, and make sure sound is turned on or off (according to your wishes).
By viewing the profiles, the students rediscovered that oceanic lithosphere is denser, and therefore floats lower in the mantle, than the continental lithosphere. In profiles drawn across the Peru-Chile trench, one can actually see the trench that is formed when oceanic lithosphere is subducted beneath continental lithosphere. Students "discovered" that mid-ocean ridges are underwater volcanic mountain chains. They also discovered information that wasn't introduced in the curriculum due to lack of time. They made cross sections across several subduction zones that were comprised of two oceanic plates. They discovered that the oceanic plate that was subducting was the one that floated lower in the mantle and therefore must be denser (and older).
Student Activity sheet can be downloaded and printed from HERE.