Ch 23: Plate Tectonics - Physical Science: Homeschool Curriculum

About This Chapter

The Plate Tectonics unit of this High School Physical Science Homeschool course is designed to help homeschooled students learn about relevant theories and Earth's movements. Parents can use the short videos to introduce topics, break up lessons and keep students engaged.

Who's it for?

This Plate Tectonics unit of our High School Physical Science Homeschool course will benefit any student who is trying to learn about tectonic plate evidence and hypotheses. There is no faster or easier way to learn about plate tectonics. Among those who would benefit are:

  • Students who require an efficient, self-paced course of study to learn about Pangaea, continental drift, causes of plate movement, the seven main tectonic or lithospheric plates, polar reversal and sea-floor spreading.
  • Homeschool parents looking to spend less time preparing lessons and more time teaching.
  • Homeschool parents who need a physical science curriculum that appeals to multiple learning types (visual or auditory).
  • Gifted students and students with learning differences.

How it works:

  • Students watch a short, fun video lesson that covers a specific unit topic.
  • Students and parents can refer to the video transcripts to reinforce learning.
  • Short quizzes and a Plate Tectonics unit exam confirm understanding or identify any topics that require review.

Plate Tectonics Unit Objectives:

  • Learn about polar reversal and sea-floor spreading.
  • Discover the evidence that led to theories of tectonic plate movement.
  • Identify evidence for the mechanism of Continental Drift.
  • Explain the evidence for Alfred Wegener's theory of Continental Drift.
  • Define convergent, transform and divergent plate boundaries.
  • Discover how hot spots and ocean drilling support the plate tectonics theory.

10 Lessons in Chapter 23: Plate Tectonics - Physical Science: Homeschool Curriculum
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
What is Pangaea? - Theory & Definition

1. What is Pangaea? - Theory & Definition

The continents you know have existed for a long time, but not in their current locations. In fact, over 200 million years ago Pangaea broke apart by plate tectonic movement to form the continents we see today.

Plate Tectonics: A Unified Theory for Change of the Earth's Surface

2. Plate Tectonics: A Unified Theory for Change of the Earth's Surface

After many years of trying to solve the mystery of the moving continents, enough data and evidence was collected to develop a unifying theory of how the surface of the earth changes. It's called plate tectonics.

Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift

3. Alfred Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift

People used to think that Earth was static, and that it never changed. Gradually, a body of evidence was gathered that made no sense in this model. Alfred Wegener, Geologic Supersleuth, laid the groundwork for a whole new theory for the large-scale changing nature of the earth.

Evidence for the Mechanism of Continental Drift

4. Evidence for the Mechanism of Continental Drift

As scientists began to explore the ocean floor after World War II, they discovered many new clues to help them solve a mystery that had begun decades earlier - how the continents moved about on the surface of the earth.

Major Plates of the Lithosphere: Earth's Tectonic Plates

5. Major Plates of the Lithosphere: Earth's Tectonic Plates

The outer shell of the earth, the lithosphere, is broken up into tectonic plates. The seven major plates are the African plate, Antarctic plate, Eurasian plate, Indo-Australian plate, North American plate, Pacific plate and South American plate.

Causes of Tectonic Plate Movement

6. Causes of Tectonic Plate Movement

In this lesson, we explore the causes of plate movement, including thermal convection, ridge push and slab pull. Students will learn how these processes complement each other and form a theory for tectonic plate movement.

Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Boundaries

7. Plate Boundaries: Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Boundaries

In the theory of plate tectonics, the earth's crust is broken into plates that move around relative to each other. As a result of this movement, three types of plate boundaries are formed: divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries.

Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

8. Ocean Drilling as Evidence for Plate Tectonics

The Deep Sea Drilling Project extracted samples of the ocean floor that provided evidence to support the hypothesis of seafloor spreading and the theory of plate tectonics. Learn how these samples provided proof.

Paleomagnetism and Hot Spots: Evidence for Plate Tectonics

9. Paleomagnetism and Hot Spots: Evidence for Plate Tectonics

Paleomagnetism is the study of past magnetic fields. Hot spots are fixed pockets of heat that well up to form volcanic features. Learn how paleomagnetism and the study of hot spots provide evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics.

Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal

10. Sea Floor Spreading and Polar Reversal

Sea floor spreading is the process by which new oceanic crust is formed by the upwelling of magma through diverging tectonic plates. Learn about the relationship between sea floor spreading and polar reversals detected on the ocean floor.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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Other Chapters

Other chapters within the High School Physical Science: Homeschool Curriculum course

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