Continental Drift
Do the continents really move?

Designed for Mrs. Reynolds's 6th Grade
Social Studies Class

Look at this map of the world. What do you notice about the continents' shapes?

Introduction to Continental Drift

    Most think of the Earth's land masses as being solid and immovable. We now know this is not true, as the land masses on earth are constantly moving and shifting. The idea that continents have been moving about for billions of years is known as the theory of Continental Drift. The reason continents move or drift is because they are parts of huge land plates that form the Earth's outer crust. The first comprehensive theory of continental drift was suggested by the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener in 1912. The hypothesis asserts that the continents consist of lighter rocks that rest on heavier crustal material—similar to the manner in which icebergs float on water.

Some great web sites

        1. Creeping more slowly than a human fingernail grows, Earth's massive continents are nonetheless on the move. Now this is really moving at a snail's pace!

http://www.firstscience.com/site/articles/continents.asp

 

        2. Would you like to see how the Earth's land masses were positioned during different time periods? Where do you think South America was positioned during the Paleozoic Period?
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/geology/anim1.html
         3. What is the Plate Tectonics Theory? Does this mean that the earth is like large dinner plates? How did the seven continents actually form? 
http://www.bartleby.com/65/co/contin-dr.html
4. The Earth's surface is constantly moving and reforming, but so slowly that you or I can't observe it ourselves. Only by taking very small measurements over a long period of time can scientists tell something is happening.

http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/pangaea/

       5. Scientists now have a fairly good understanding of how the plates move and how such movements relate to earthquake activity. Most movement occurs along narrow zones between plates where the results of plate tectonic forces are most evident.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/understanding.html
 

         6. The continents look as if they were pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that could fit together to make one giant super continent. The bulge of Africa fits the shape of the coast of North America while Brazil fits along the coast of Africa beneath the bulge.

http://kids.mtpe.hq.nasa.gov/archive/pangaea/evidence.html

       7. According to the theory of continental drift, the world was made up of a single continent through most of geologic time. That continent eventually separated and drifted apart, forming into the seven continents we have today. 

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001765.html
 

       8. Glacial sediments were found in sub-tropical areas. Coal seams and sedimentary rock formations on one continent matched those on another. Mountain ranges that ended at one coastline seemed to begin again on another. What might this prove?
http://www.harborside.com/~ssnerr/tecton.htm
         9. In geologic terms, a plate is a large, rigid slab of solid rock. The word tectonics comes from the Greek root "to build." Putting these two words together, we get the term plate tectonics, which refers to how the Earth's surface is built of plates. 

http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/historical.html

10. This is a great site! The PALEOMAP Project illustrates the plate tectonic development of the ocean basins and continents, as well as the changing distribution of land and sea during the past 1100 million years.

http://www.scotese.com/
 


 
 

A map of the world as it might appear 250 million years from now. Notice the clumping of most of the world's land mass into one super continent, "Pangaea Ultima," with an inland sea -- all that's left of the once mighty Atlantic Ocean. 
Scenario One
Hey, guess what! You have been chosen to participate in a special project. This project involves jumping millions of years into the future. So fasten your seat belt, as this will most certainly be a very exciting ride!

                                    Here's your mission!
1. Using our time machine, you will be projected approximately 250 million years into the future. The Earth will look very different from what it looks like now.

2. Explore the above links making notes of the changes in the land masses. Make predictions about how these changes in land masses might affect human and animal life.

3. Once you have collected your data and have made your predictions, return to Earth via the time machine and compile your findings and predictions in the form of a report for our local newspaper. 

QCC Objectives for Science and Technology

1.     1 Topic: Scientific Inquiry Process
Standard: Uses process skills of observing, classifying, communicating, measuring, predicting, inferring, identifying, and manipulating variables; recording analyzing and operationally defining, formulating models, experimenting, constructing hypotheses and drawing conclusions.

2.    16 Topic: Research
Standard: Uses technology and telecommunications tools to locate, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, apply, and communicate information.

  Grading Rubric for Scenario One

  Beginning

1

    Developing

           2

Accomplished

3

Score
Technology (QCC)
6th grade
uses technology to locate, evaluate, apply and communicate information
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources to gather information and express ideas with extra help or assistance.
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources to gather information and express ideas with little help..
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources without help from others.  
Science 
(QCC) 
6th grade
uses process skills of observing, recording, analyzing, and drawing conclusions
student is able to use process skills of observing, recording , analyzing and drawing conclusion with help and prompting from the teacher.
Student is able to use process skills of observing, recording, analyzing and drawing conclusion with little help from the teacher.
Students  is able to use process skills of observing, recording, analyzing, and drawling conclusion with no help from the teacher.  

 
Scenario Two
Because you are one of the world's greatest mathematicians, you have been chosen for a very important job. The President of the United States wants to know how much continental drift will take place within the next 1000 years. Here is a very important piece of information. The continents drift approximately one yard every century.

                                           Here's your mission!
                               For your information:

One century = 100 years
One yard = 3 feet
One foot = 12 inches

1. Study the above chart.

2. Using the hot link in the scenario, calculate the distance the earth's land masses will drift approximately in 1000 years

Part B
3. Once you have calculated the distance in yards, calculate how many approximate feet the earth's land masses will drift in 1000 years.
4. Now see if you can convert the feet into inches. 

QCC Objectives for Math and Technology

1.    47 Topic: Problem Solving
Standard: Solves problems using one or two operations.

2.   16    Topic: Research
Standard: Uses technology and telecommunications tools to locate, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, apply, and communicate information.

Grading Rubric for Scenario Two

Beginning

1

      Developing

            2

Accomplished

3

Score
Technology (QCC)
(6th grade) Uses technology to locate, evaluate, apply and communicate information
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources to gather information and express ideas with extra help or assistance.
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources to gather information and express ideas with little help.
Student is able to use telecommunication tools and online resources without help from others.
Math
(QCC)
Solves problems using two or more operations
Student is able to solve problems containing two step operations  with extra help and assistance 
Student is able to solve problems containing two step operations  with little help and assistance.
student is able to solve problems containing two step operations without any help from others   

 
 
 

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