Plate Tectonics and People


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a Frank and Ernest cartoon with a new chick coming out of an egg
Just like the plate tectonics revolution
Image source: Thaves, 1998

In Lesson 1, we read a brief history of the basic research that led to the formulation of plate tectonics. In this lesson, research the life and scientific contributions of the scientist of your choice. The goal is to explain to your classmates how your scientist contributed to our modern view of the solid Earth.

I like the idea of starting this course with some exploration of the history of plate tectonics because it is such a young theory. In addition, if you probe a little farther you'll find that we knew a lot about the Earth before plate tectonics pulled it all together. I think it is pretty impressive to contemplate some of the observations made decades ago when scientists had nothing like the equipment capabilities for measurement and computation that we have available to us now.

I also think this is the perfect opportunity to get to know each other better by constructively critiquing each other's work.

What will we learn in Lesson 2?

By the end of Lesson 2, you should be able to:

  • edit a Web page in this course
  • research the contribution to plate tectonic theory made by a particular scientist
  • explain the technological advances that improved geological observations of plate motions
  • describe the differences between the concepts of "continental drift," "sea-floor spreading," and "plate tectonics"
  • define and explain the following terminology: plate, lithosphere, asthenosphere, crust, mantle

What is due for Lesson 2?

The table below provides an overview of the requirements for Lesson 2. For assignment details, refer to the lesson page noted.

Lesson 2 will take us two weeks to complete. 7 Sep - 20 Sep 2016

Lesson 2, Week 1 Assignments
Requirements Submitted for Grading? Due Date
Choose your scientist. No  
Research your scientist. No  
Create your Web page. Yes - create content on this site. (Your content will be graded after you've had time to reflect on it and revise it.) 13 Sep 2016
Lesson 2, Week 2 Assignments
Requirements Submitted for Grading? Due Date
Respond to the Web pages made by your classmates. Yes - Use the Canvas Lesson 2 peer review discussion boards. Your thoughtful critique will be part of your grade. multiple participation spanning 14-20 Sep 2016
Revise your page in response to comments and reflections. Yes - your final content will be graded. 20 Sep 2016


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? Discussion Forum (not e-mail). I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.