Seafloor Spreading Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

If you are discussing continent movements, this lesson plan explores seafloor spreading. Students will watch a video, participate in discussion questions, complete an activity and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast two continent movement theories
  • define seafloor spreading
  • discuss evidence to prove the seafloor spreading theory


60 minutes; extension (optional) 30 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.7

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.9

Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.



  • lithosphere
  • seafloor spreading
  • rifting
  • basalt
  • seafloor magnetism
  • magnetic field reversals
  • radiometric age dating


  • Prior to the lesson, assign the vocabulary, then review for accuracy.
  • Begin the lesson by asking students if they have heard of seafloor spreading.
  • Now explain that they will explore the concept more in this lesson.
  • Distribute a copy of the Seafloor Spreading: Theory & Definition lesson, play the video, pause at 1:06, then start the following discussion:
    • What was the original theory about the movement of continents?
    • Who derived a second theory? What did he propose?
    • Explain seafloor spreading.
  • Now restart the video, pause at 2:05, then ask the following:
    • Explain the impact of magma and basalt as it relates to seafloor spreading.
    • Is seafloor spreading a slow or quick process? Explain.
  • Next restart the video, pause at 3:10, then require students to answer the following:
    • Explain the pattern found by researchers.
    • How does this pattern prove Hess' theory?
  • Afterwards, play the video until the end and pose these discussion points:
    • How did researchers confirm Hess' theory?
    • Identify where the youngest and oldest rock formation is located in the sea floor and discuss its relevance to the continent movements.
    • Explain what the author meant by 'Alfred Wegener was vindicated'?
  • Afterwards show the lesson quiz and require students to write the answers, then review.

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