Lesson 2: Plate Tectonics & the Ocean Floor (2)

Lesson 2: Plate Tectonics and the Ocean Floor Structures (2)
Learning Activities

Learning Activities

Materials: graham crackers (2) long crackers per student, frosting or non-dairy whipping cream, red/yellow food coloring, paper plate or wax paper, plastic knives or spoons to spread frosting

Safety: check for student allergies, remind students to be cautious with plastic knives, safety goggles, aprons



Introduction: Show the Plate Tectonics and the Ocean Floor Map. For a ‘local" view show the Juan de Fuca tectonic map

Ask: What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Tell: List everything you already know and the things that you wonder about plate tectonics and the ocean floor on this form under the “K” for “Know” and the “W” for “Wonder.”

Spend time playing the “Plates on the Move" game. Click on the “+” signs found in the Pacific Northwest and answer all the associated questions for the plates you clicked.

Ask: What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Explain: Subduction at plate boundaries is responsible for volcanic eruptions such as those associated with the Cascade volcanoes. Point out the location of Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca mid-ocean ridge, the  Cascadia Subduction Zone and the plate boundaries.


Ask: What are tectonic plates and how do they interact to form underwater volcanoes?

Explain: Today we will use graham crackers as a model to help us understand how plate interaction leads to the formation of underwater volcanoes.

Complete the Pacific Science Center Graham Cracker Plate Tectonics activity

Check for Understanding (formative assessment)

Monitor students while they explore with the graham cracker/plate tectonic boundary activity above. While monitoring, ask students to explain divergent plate boundaries, transform plate boundaries and convergent plate boundaries (subduction zones).


Plate Tectonics and the Ocean Floor
JUan de Fuca Tectonic Map
K for "Know" and W for "Wonder"
Plates on the Move AMNH Game
Seafloor spreading and subdution
Juan de Fuca Ridge and Cascade Volcanoes