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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

A History of Plate Tectonics

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Objective

In this activity you will gather information on plate tectonics from three periods in Earth's history. You will observe and learn about the movements of the continental and oceanic plates from 650 million years ago to the present.

First

  1. Read the information on the Precambrian period of Earth's History. Click here.
  2. On the Precambrian page click "more info" in the top left for more information.
  3. Now read the worksheet example below.
  4. Once you have completed steps 1,2 and 3 do the procedure.

Procedure

  1. Go to the Paleomap Project web site. Click here.
  2. Select
    • Cambrian and
    • Any two periods from the list except Precambrian.
  3. Open your reference tables to page 8 and 9.
  4. Complete your worksheet based on:
    • The Paleomap Project website and
    • The Earth Science Reference Tables.
  5. Your worksheet should be similar to the example worksheet below.

Worksheet Example

1. Geologic Time Period

Precambrian.

2. When did the period begin and end? (use your reference tables)

5,000 million years ago to 640 million years ago.

3. Describe what was happening to the North American continent during the period. Include: direction, types of boundaries and names of other continents involved.

The Supercontinent Rodina formed 1,100 millian years ago. North America was at the center. The east coast of North America and the west coast of South America were joined. Australia and Antarctica were joined to the West Coast of North America.

4. What types of plant or animal fossils existed during the period?

There are no fossils older than 650 million years. Hard-shelled organisms (plants or animals) did not exist back then. Soft bodied organisms can not be preserved as fossils.

5. Describe the climate during the period.

During much of the period Earth was in an iceage.

 

Edward Colley teaches science at Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.  He is a TeachNet Mentor.

Class periods to complete: 6

Grade Level: 9-12

 

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