SC.7.E.6.5

Explore the scientific theory of plate tectonics by describing how the movement of Earth's crustal plates causes both slow and rapid changes in Earth's surface, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and mountain building.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 7
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Big Idea: Earth Structures - Over geologic time, internal and external sources of energy have continuously altered the features of Earth by means of both constructive and destructive forces. All life, including human civilization, is dependent on Earth's internal and external energy and material resources.
Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes
Test Item Specifications
  • Item Type(s): This benchmark may be assessed using: MC item(s)
  • Also Assesses
    SC.7.E.6.1 Describe the layers of the solid Earth, including the lithosphere, the hot convecting mantle, and the dense metallic liquid and solid cores.

    SC.7.E.6.7 Recognize that heat flow and movement of material within Earth causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and creates mountains and ocean basins.

  • Clarification :
    Students will describe the scientific theory of plate tectonics and/or how the movement of Earth’s crustal plates and the flow of heat and material cause various geologic events to occur.

    Students will identify and/or describe the layers of Earth.
  • Content Limits :
    Items will not assess types of volcanoes but may assess different causes of volcano formation.

    Items will not assess types of earthquake waves.

    Items may assess density differences between layers of Earth but will not assess density differences as they relate to plate tectonics.

    Items assessing the layers of Earth are limited to the crust, the lithosphere, the hot convecting mantle, the outer (liquid) core, and the inner (solid) core.
  • Stimulus Attributes :
    None specified
  • Response Attributes :
    None specified
  • Prior Knowledge :
    This benchmark grouping is foundational. These concepts have not been introduced in the NGSSS prior to this grade-level grouping.
Sample Test Items (1)
  • Test Item #: Sample Item 1
  • Question: Interactions between layers of Earth cause convection currents to move crustal plates. The diagram below shows four layers of Earth.

    in which layer of earth are the convection currents that directly result in tectonic plate motion found?
  • Difficulty: N/A
  • Type: MC: Multiple Choice

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002070: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002080: M/J Comprehensive Science 2, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001010: M/J Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001020: M/J Earth/Space Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820016: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 2 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002085: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.7.E.6.In.2: Recognize that slow changes, such as mountain-building, and fast changes, such as volcanic eruptions, are caused by shifts below Earth’s surface.
SC.7.E.6.Pa.2: Discriminate between surface features of ground on Earth, such as rocky/sandy, flat/hilly, rough/smooth, or solid/liquid.
SC.7.E.6.Su.4: Recognize the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

Edible Plate Tectonics:

Using the 5E lesson plan template, students will explore the theory of plate tectonic movement by creating models with food to demonstrate the movement of the plates in plate tectonics.

Type: Lesson Plan

Shake it up around the world:

ResourceID: 39599

This lesson will allow students to investigate the location of earthquakes and volcanoes throughout the world and determine how they relate to the tectonic plates.

Type: Lesson Plan

Don't BLOW your vacation plans away!:

This lesson is student-led through small student-groups teaching the major components of volcanoes.  Students get the opportunity to utilize and manipulate interactive technology to demonstrate their understanding of volcanic eruptions and apply it to their own learning/discovery of one specific volcano. This is lesson #4 (Volcanoes) of a four part sequential unit on Plate Tectonics: Lesson #1 is 45876 (Plate tectonics), Lesson #2 is 45856 (Earthquakes), and Lesson #3 is 45900 (Tsunamis).

Type: Lesson Plan

Are You Trembling with Excitement About Your Vacation?:

This is part two of a four part unit on Plate Tectonics. Lesson #1 (ID#45876), Lesson #2 (ID#45856), Lesson #3 (ID# 45900) and Lesson 4 (ID# 45984). This lesson can be done in three-five 45 minute class periods dependent on the students' abilities to work in small groups and stations. Students will be rotating through various stations to explore their understanding of earthquakes and plate tectonics. They will create their own map of tectonic plate boundaries, research 5 recent earthquakes, and more.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Origins of Plate Tectonics - a complex text lesson:

This is a complex text reading lesson dealing with continental drift and plate tectonics.

Type: Lesson Plan

The bigger the tremble the bigger the trouble!:

Students will demonstrate earthquakes using graham crackers. They will then discover the after effects, (after shocks and tsunamis), and earthquake has on Mother Earth. Lastly, they will discover not all tsunamis are enormous tidal waves. This is lesson 3 of a 4-part unit. Lesson 1 (ID 45876), Lesson 2 (ID 45856), Lesson 4 (ID 45984)

Type: Lesson Plan

Don't Let Plate Tectonics Ruin Your Vacation!:

This is Lesson #1 of 4 sequential lessons that scaffold the concepts of Plate Tectonics. It teaches students what plates are and how they move on Earth. Students will learn how and why mountains and islands are created as well as why volcanoes erupt and earthquakes shake~daily!

Type: Lesson Plan

7th Grade Plate Tectonics:

This lesson plan uses recent earthquakes as a learning opportunity. Students will learn what causes earthquakes to happen by going through a series of activities that allow them to explore the structure of Earth's interior, convection currents in the mantle, motion of tectonic plates, and the relationship between plate tectonics and earthquakes.

Type: Lesson Plan

Earthquakes:

This is an online lesson that can be transferred into a classroom instructional activity by the teacher. This lesson simplifies the concepts while pushing the the higher order thinking concepts with scaffolding all concepts of the layers of the earth, plate tectonics, P and S waves, creating a model of an earthquake. Students enjoy this lesson and have been able to improve on assessment after completing the Earthquake lesson. Teachers will enjoy the online printable worksheets that correlate to the lesson/data sheets and the variety of choices while using the interactive tool for whole group instruction. There are many choices for formative assessment as well as summative assessment.

Type: Lesson Plan

Faulty Movement:

In this activity, students are introduced to faults. They will learn about different kinds of faults and understand their relationship to earthquakes.

Type: Lesson Plan

Snack Tectonics:

Students will use edible food items to model convergent, divergent, and transform plate boundaries. They will observe the landforms that result from each boundary type and each crust types (oceanic or continental).

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorials

Plate Tectonic Boundaries:

Investigate the type of boundaries that occur between plates on the Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Effects: A Ground Shaking Tutorial:

Learn about the types of effects that can occur as a result of plate tectonics in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Seafloor Structure Layer Cakes:

Want to reinforce your students' understanding of seafloor spreading? This idea is a piece of cake!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Resource Collection

The Geography Site: Physical Geography:

An educator, David Robinson, created this website to supply high quality materials dealing with various aspects of physical geography to educators and students. The website provides extensive information for five main categories: earthquakes, plate tectonics and continental drift, volcanoes and volcanics, glaciers and glaciation, and a physical geography glossary. Examples of the topics covered include an examination of the Mount St. Helens eruption, an introduction to predicting earthquakes, and the glacial formations of corries. Although the content was created primarily for twelve- to sixteen-year-old students, much of the material is applicable to all introductory earth science courses and can prove very beneficial for all interested in physical geography.

Type: Resource Collection

Text Resources

The quake that shook up geology:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area.  

This article recounts the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964, a magnitude 9.2 event and the second strongest earthquake ever recorded. It also discuss how the earthquake helped shape the study of plate tectonics.

 

Type: Text Resource

How Earth's Surface Morphs:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article focuses on how plate tectonics change the surface of Earth, and how new research is changing the way we think about geological behavior. The article goes in depth about two new ideas that are changing the way we think about the planet's layers and the processes that have shaped Earth over its long history.

Type: Text Resource

Earthquakes, Megaquakes, and the Movies:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text explains how large earthquakes are naturally occurring events and compares them to the fictional "megaquakes" portrayed in movies. It also dispels a number of myths about earthquakes.

Type: Text Resource

Dynamic Earth Interactive:

This website allows students to explore earth's interior, the movement of tectonic plates, and the formation of mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. This website also offers interactive explanations and quizzes for students to test their knowledge. A worksheet is attached to guide students through using the website and give them a way to take notes.

Type: Text Resource

Earth's Interior: A Look at the Inner Earth:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. The article covers the composition and properties of Earth's layers.

Type: Text Resource

Scientists Anticipated Size and Location of 2012 Costa Rica Earthquake:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. A group of scientists predict when and where an earthquake will occur in Costa Rica using the latest technology and research.

Type: Text Resource

Faultline: Theory of Plate Tectonics:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text explains both the history of plate tectonics and continental drift, and the land features that result from the earth's plate movement.

Type: Text Resource

Plate Tectonics:

This resource supports reading in the content area. This text is about the different interactions the plates on the Earth's surface have with each other and how they affect the Earth's surface.

Type: Text Resource

Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker:

This resource supports reading in the content area. This is an informational text that provides the explanations and activities of the different movements of plate tectonics. This resource includes text-dependent questions.

Type: Text Resource

Big Quake, Little Destruction:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. The article outlines the differences between recent large earthquakes in the Pacific and the earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami in 2004. It describes how tectonic plates can move in relation to one another in order to explain different geophysical (e.g. tsunami) outcomes.

Type: Text Resource

Thirst for Water Moves and Shakes California:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Humans have been pumping large amounts of groundwater from the Central Valley of California for their own hydration needs. Recent research has found that this loss of mass is causing the Earth's crust to shift, which may be causing small earthquakes and the slight rise of mountains in California.

Type: Text Resource

Video/Audio/Animations

Plate Tectonics:

Graphic 1 min video showing the layers of the earth and magma convection and it's effects on the surface of the earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Deep Sea Vents and Life:

Excerpted from NOVA: "Volcanoes of the Deep", this video segment reveals strange and luminescent forms of life, such as giant tube worms, spider crabs, and billions of microbes clumped together like a cottony web. The site where life began on Earth may have been where black smokers stream from hydrothermal vents and chimneys along the sea floor.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

MIT BLOSSOMS - Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?:

This learning video uses a simple analog setup to explore why earthquakes are so unpredictable. The setup is simple enough that students should be able to assemble and operate it on their own with a teacher's supervision. The teaching approach used in this module is known as the 5E approach, which stands for Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation. Over the course of this lesson, the basic mechanisms that give rise to the behavior of the simple analog system are explained, and further elaboration helps the students to apply their understanding of the analog system to complex fault systems that cause earthquakes. It is important that students be familiar with the following prerequisite concepts before beginning the module: earth's interior structure, plate tectonics and plate motions, properties of Earth materials, and faults and fault motions. This lesson can be completed in 50 minutes if the basic materials for construction of the analog setup are compiled prior to getting started in class. Materials needed include: two 4" x 4" wooden blocks; two screw eyes, 12x1-3/16" ; one 4"x36" sanding belt (50 Grit); one 1/3 Sheet of sandpaper (60 Grit); one rubber band; 16" of duct tape; one fabric tape measurement ; one pair of scissors; and one hot glue gun. This interactive lesson incorporates two primary types of activities during the breaks between video segments: Analog setup exploration and Guided discussions. The lesson described in this video module has been adapted from activities developed by Hubenthal, M., Braile, L., Taber, J. (2008) Redefining earthquakes and the earthquake machine. The Science Teacher, 75(1), 32-36.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulative

Plate Tectonics:

In this resource, you can explore how tectonic plates move on the surface of the Earth. The interactive simulation takes you through 0-50 millions years of movement.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

Plate Tectonic Boundaries:

Investigate the type of boundaries that occur between plates on the Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Plate Tectonic Effects: A Ground Shaking Tutorial:

Learn about the types of effects that can occur as a result of plate tectonics in this interactive tutorial.

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorials

Plate Tectonic Boundaries:

Investigate the type of boundaries that occur between plates on the Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Effects: A Ground Shaking Tutorial:

Learn about the types of effects that can occur as a result of plate tectonics in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animation

Deep Sea Vents and Life:

Excerpted from NOVA: "Volcanoes of the Deep", this video segment reveals strange and luminescent forms of life, such as giant tube worms, spider crabs, and billions of microbes clumped together like a cottony web. The site where life began on Earth may have been where black smokers stream from hydrothermal vents and chimneys along the sea floor.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulative

Plate Tectonics:

In this resource, you can explore how tectonic plates move on the surface of the Earth. The interactive simulation takes you through 0-50 millions years of movement.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Resource Collection

The Geography Site: Physical Geography:

An educator, David Robinson, created this website to supply high quality materials dealing with various aspects of physical geography to educators and students. The website provides extensive information for five main categories: earthquakes, plate tectonics and continental drift, volcanoes and volcanics, glaciers and glaciation, and a physical geography glossary. Examples of the topics covered include an examination of the Mount St. Helens eruption, an introduction to predicting earthquakes, and the glacial formations of corries. Although the content was created primarily for twelve- to sixteen-year-old students, much of the material is applicable to all introductory earth science courses and can prove very beneficial for all interested in physical geography.

Type: Resource Collection