October 27, 2017

The best way to teach about Earth’s layers during recess? Bring out the colored play dough! We had a very large group of students this week, and they all diligently built a miniature Earth: a rock in the center to represent the inner core, a yellow play dough layer to represent the outer core, a red layer to represent the mantle, and green and yellow to represent the thin Earth’s crust.

With a model of the beautiful Earth in hand, kids moved on to the next table to learn about lithosphere and plate tectonics.  Squish a pile of paper napkins with your hands — what do you see? The layers squish to form peaks, trenches and valleys. The same happens with the plate boundaries. After showing how the continents seemingly fit together as puzzle pieces — the idea behind continental drift, which consequently produced the theory of plate tectonics — and discussing different ways plates interact at boundaries (e.g. earthquakes), we threw in an engineering component: build an earthquake proof tower with Keva blocks.

Before the bell rang, everyone gathered around the baking soda and vinegar volcano demonstration, and cheered on as the red “lava” poured down the “mountainside”. Another fab lunchtime science lab a huge success!

Make: Vinegar and baking soda volcano.

Visit: The Forces That Shape The Bay outdoor exhibit of the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. Next to the telescopes, look for two rocks on the ground to discover how far the plates have moved.

Visit: California Academy of Science’s Earthquake: Life on the Dynamic Planet exhibit.

Parents: Watch a USGS movie about Kīlauea Volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi.


Photo credit: USGS

Science Fridays: Geosphere