It's Just a Theory
An Internet WebQuest on Plate Tectonics

created by UniServe Science

The Task | The Process and Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


The Task

The task of the group as a whole is to outline what is meant by the "Theory of Plate Tectonics", outline the development of the theory and provide evidence to support or reject the theory.

The task of each individual in the group is to supply the evidence that would be provided by a particular geologist or scientist. A "job description" for the assumed profession should also be included.


The Process and Resources

Sites for everyone: glossaries, background and general information


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Scientific historian

Use the Internet information linked below to compile a timeline of events and people who have helped formulate the theories of Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. Alfred Wegener;
  2. Arthur Holmes;
  3. Harry Hess;
  4. Edward Seuss;
  5. J. Tuzo Wilson;
  6. Fred Vines; and
  7. Drummond Matthews.


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Palaeonotolgist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that palaeontologists might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. unique Australian megafauna;
  2. Mesosaurus and other vertebrate fossils; and
  3. plant fossils such as Glossopteris and Gangamopteris.


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Biologist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that biologists might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. unique Australian fauna; and
  2. Gondwana flora.


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Geological Oceanographer

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that geological oceanographers might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. topography of the ocean floor;
  2. age of sediments on the ocean floor; and
  3. thickness of sediments on the ocean floor.


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Volcanologist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that volcanologists might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. distribution of volcanoes;
  2. types of volcanoes; and
  3. black smokers.


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Seismologist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that seismologists might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. distribution of earthquakes;
  2. distribution of shallow earthquakes; and
  3. distribution of deep earthquakes.


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Geologist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that geologists they might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. distribution of coal seams;
  2. distribution of mountains chains;
  3. distribution of cratons and rocks of similar age; and
  4. distribution and direction of glaciation.


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Geophysicist

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that geophysicists might contribute to the Theory of Plate Tectonics such as:

  1. palaeomagnetism;
  2. polar wandering; and
  3. magnetic striping.


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Astronomer

Use the Internet information linked below to compile evidence that Plate Tectonics may have occurred on other planets in the solar system such as:

  1. Mars;
  2. Venus; and
  3. moons of Jupiter.


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Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all investigated a different line of evidence used by geologists to support The Theory of Plate Tectonics. Now group members come back to the larger WebQuest team with evidence gained by searching from the perspective of your chosen scientist.

You must all now collaborate to justify whether you accept or reject the Theory of Plate Tectonics. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. from the web pages you explored to convince your team mates that your viewpoint is important and the evidence relevant and should be part of your team's answer to the Task. Your WebQuest team should write out an answer that everyone on the team can live with.


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Conclusion

You and your team mates have learned a lot by dividing up to address different issues and points of view. Now's the time to put your learning into a format that can be shared with other interested people.

As a group, prepare evidence to support or reject the theory of Plate Tectonics. What do most geologists consider to be the cause of Plate Tectonics? Will the continents come together again some time in the future? Has there only been one episode of plate movement?

Your group may decide to present their evidence and arguments in written format, as a brochure or as a poster, in electronic format, as a presentation or web site, or through an oral presentation or debate.

Each member of the group should also provide:

  • a job description for their assumed role; and
  • a list of new words (with explanations) that were necessary to understand this topic.
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Last Update: Monday, 30-Apr-2012 14:52:51 AEST
URL: http://science.uniserve.edu.au/school/quests/plattect.html

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