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TeachNet Grant: A Trip to a Plate Boundary!

Kevin Jackson

Please add your school and address.

Grade/Subject: 10-12: Earth Science, ESL, Technology, Geography

About the Grant:


  • Computer
  • LCD projector
  • SMART Board
  • Notebook lessons: plate tectonics and plate boundaries
  • Internet connection
  • Google Earth program
  • Laptop cart with printer
  • Earth Science Reference Tables
  • Colored pencils
  • USB drive for saving student work


This unit is designed to help students learn the geologic features that exist at the different types of plate boundaries.

How it Works:

The unit is prepared using SMART Board notebook software. The lesson contain various links to Google Earth that will direct the students to different places in the world where these various features exist as evidence to support the lesson. It includes various links to websites that offer animation to illustrate how the geologic features form as a result of the plate boundary present. Students will also see links to different videos found on unitedstreaming.com

Final Project/Product:  

Students will select a different region of the world and create a travel brochure highlighting features formed by the plate boundaries. 

Overall Value:

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. They interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media, and communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Tips for the Teacher:

When going through this SMART Board lesson, it is helpful to download Google Earth to each student's laptop beforehand. All links are included in the notebook lessons. Go through the lesson and make sure the links and the various videos and web pages work. They may need to be re-linked to the programs and videos on the laptop you are using. If printing is not an option for the student brochures, save them on a USB drive. They can be uploaded to a class blog for comments if time permits.


1: Students will describe the geologic features that exist at various plate boundaries.

2: Students will use Google Earth to locate different geologic structures such as volcanoes, mountains, rifts, and trenches.

3: Students will compare and contrast plate boundaries and hot spots.

4: Students will design a travel brochure using information researched in class on the Internet.

Websites Used


Free software for Google Earth can be downloaded.



Software is available for the SMART Board including a recorder that allows user to record a SMART Board presentation in movie format.



This site allows students to make travel brochures and print or save them. 

Students can add photos and text.



This site hosts various videos for every discipline. A school subscription is necessary to access the videos.



This site provides online earth science reference tables that can be inserted into SMART Board notebook and used in class.



This U.S. Geological Survey site lists the most recent earthquakes around the world.

Standards Addressed:

Standard 1:

Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

Grade level: 9-12

Subject: English Language Arts


Standard 2:

Students actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts and participate in various roles in the arts.

Grade level: 9-12

Subject: Arts


Standard 3:

Students access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Grade level: 9-12

Subject: Science

Standard 4:

Students understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology, and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Grade level: 9-12

Subject: Science

Subject Area: Technology

Lesson 1:

Title: Identifying the Names of Different Plate Boundaries


Project Objectives:

1. The students distinguish between convergent, divergent, and transform plate boundaries.

2. The students use the Earth Science Reference Tables to find different plate boundaries in the world.



· SMART Board

· Laptop with LCD

· SMART Board notebook lesson on plate tectonics

· Earth Science Reference Tables

· Colored pencils




1. On the SMART Board, go to the USGS Recent Earthquake website.

2. Ask students to identify what areas on the planet recent earthquakes have occurred (page 2, notebook lesson).

3. Ask students to name places that have lots of earthquakes (page 2 of notebook lesson).

4. Explain the theory of continental drift. Ask a student to come to the SMART Board and try to fit the continents together like a puzzle (page 4).

5. Go through the lesson on plate tectonics and define the different boundaries: divergent, convergent, and transform.

6. Introduce the Earth Science Reference Tables with the plate maps and show the legend at the bottom.

7. Ask students to color their maps with colored pencils using one color for each    type of boundary.

8. Refer back to the USGS Recent Earthquake page and have students compare the boxes on the maps to the colors on their reference tables.



Check student maps and make sure they correctly identify that most earthquakes are at convergent or transform boundaries.

Lesson 2:

Title:  Defining Geologic Features at Each Plate Boundary


Project Objectives

1. Students will list the different features of various plate boundaries.

2. Students will explore various Google Earth layers.

3. Students will compare mantle hot spots to plate boundaries




· SMART Board

· Laptop with LCD

· SMART Board notebook lesson on plate boundaries

· Earth Science Reference Tables

· Laptop cart with Internet connection and Google Earth



1. While students are working on Do Now (page 1 of notebook lesson), distribute laptops to groups of students.

2. Review the procedure for turning on and off the different layers in Google Earth (page 3).

3. Have students use the Earth Science Reference Tables (page 5) to find a divergent plate boundary.

4. Ask students to find that location, using Google Earth, and to list the different features that appear.

5. Review the pages on divergent boundaries and find places, using Google Earth, on the SMART board.

6. Have students repeat Step 4 for convergent and transform plate boundaries.

7. Each plate boundary has a link to a web animation on its page showing students different animations.

8. Ask students to find mantle hot spots, using Google Earth.

9. Review the hot spots page on Notebook software.



Compare and contrast hot spots to plate boundaries.




Elicit answers from students throughout the lesson to see if they have found the different features that are specific to each boundary.

Lesson 3:

Title: Researching Two Plate Boundaries

Project Objectives:

1. Students will use Google Earth layers to find specific information about various geologic features.

2. Students will use a web page to produce a brochure from a template.



· Laptop carts with laptops for each group

· Google Earth

· Examples of brochures from a travel agency or website

· Flash drive for saving work

· LCD projector and SMART Board




1. Direct students to an online brochure-making site such as mybrochuremaker.com

2. Guide the students through the procedure of making a brochure using the online template.

3. Make a sample brochure as a class.

4. Tell students that they will make a travel brochure to attract people to visit different plate boundaries.

5. Have the students use the Internet and Google Earth to find specific information at different boundaries.

6. Show the students that when the mouse is dragged over different icons, specific information appears for it. For example, placing the mouse over the green mountain icon at Mount Everest will give specific information on Everest, including elevation and pictures.

7. Have students select two boundaries for which they can gather information and pictures.

8. Pass around a USB drive for the students to save their work on at the end of the class.



Complete all necessary research for the brochure.



Walk around to each group and interview the members about the places they chose to work with.

Lesson 4

Title: Preparing the Travel Brochure


Project Objectives:

1. The students will compile information on two plate boundaries into travel brochures.

2. The students will identify different features of a plate boundary.



· Laptop carts with laptop for each group

· USB drive with students' saved work



1. Have the students get together in their groups and load their work from the previous class off the USB drive.

2. Ask the students to prepare the travel brochure as explained in the previous class, provide a rubric for grading.

3. Use the USB drive to save the completed brochures if students cannot print them immediately.

4. Have the students print a copy of their brochure with a separate page citing their resources.



Grade the brochures according to the teacher rubric.

Kevin Jackson has been teaching Chemistry at Newcomers High School in Long Island City, Queens for seven years. He enjoys working with a diverse group of students from all over the globe, and he tries to incorporate media and technology in all parts of the curriculum.


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