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Inside the Earth - Where, O Where Did My Boundary Go?

There are several large and small tectonic plates that make up the pieces of Earth's crust, but how do they fit together? Do coastlines make up all of the plate boundaries? Is each continent its own plate? Your goal with this activity is to find out.

Using your knowledge of the continents and oceans (and maybe a map), let's put the pieces of this puzzle together. Each tectonic plate is found as a puzzle piece in the link below. Your challenge will be to put them in their proper place. Here are the names of the pieces:

  • African
  • Antarctic
  • Arabian
  • Australian
  • Caribbean
  • Cocos
  • Eurasian
  • Indian
  • Juan De Fuca
  • Nazca
  • North American
  • Pacific
  • Philippine
  • Scotia
  • South American

Materials:

  • Pieces to the puzzle (pdf)
  • Scissors
  • Piece of paper
  • Glue
  • Colored pencils, colored pens, or crayons (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Cut out the pieces of the puzzle using the scissors.
  2. Use the glue to attach each puzzle piece to the piece of paper.
  3. Use the colored pencils to color your model when you finish.
  4. If you get stuck, remember to look at the big picture.

Safety concerns: Be sure to follow all sharp instrument safety rules that are specified by your teacher and in all general laboratory experiences. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.

Extension:
After you complete the puzzle challenge, try this extension. This example of plates and boundaries is made with a model that uses a tennis ball.

utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.