Plate Tectonics:  The Way the Earth Works

Grades 6—8

Written by Kevin Cuff with Ian Carmichael and Carolyn Willard

The theory of plate tectonics represents a revolutionary breakthrough in the earth sciences, providing a coherent model of how the outer surface of the Earth moves and changes. 

In these activities, students conduct simulated research at key geological sites around the world. They visit Hawaii, California, Iceland, Japan and Nepal, and their investigations range from the bottom of the ocean to the top of Mount Everest.  Classroom models of erupting volcanoes, strike-slip faults, rock layers, and sea-floor spreading help reveal the dynamic nature of the Earth's crust.  Students record observations, calculations, and conclusions in a geological field notebook. 

Plate tectonics is a challenging subject that many middle school teachers are required to teach.  This new GEMS guide provides clear, step-by-step presentation instructions, concise and accessible background information, built-in assessments, resources, student reading and literature suggestions, and helpful suggestions from teachers who tested the activities in classrooms nationwide.  These activities use readily available materials and no special science knowledge or background is required to present them.

Related earth science activities can be found in Stories in Stone.

Plate Tectonics cover art

Order online

Ordering information

Literature Connections

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price
0-924886-60-9 6—8 8 activities
220 pages

Please take our web survey!

Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2007 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated June 20, 2020