MODELING CLAY ACTIVITY

 

Materials Needed.

 

  1. Several boxes of “Prang” Modeling Clay in two different colors (Gray for continental, Blue for ocean crust.)  Each box contains four sticks.
  2. Cooking Oil.
  3. Flat work surface.

 

Organization

 

  1. Divide students into small groups giving each group one stick of Gray and one stick of Blue clay.
  2. Students flatten both sticks to make two different colored plates.  The blue or ocean plate should be much thinner than the gray or continental plate.
  3. Oil the work surface and both plates.  This step is important for plate movement and may need to be repeated if clay sticks.
  4. Use clay plates to examine what happens at plate boundaries with different movement.  Pushing plates together shows convergence while sideways sliding shows transform or strike-slip faulting.  To show crust-to-crust or ocean-to-ocean plate interaction cut plates in half or exchange with another group.

 

Observations

 

  1. Pushing the Ocean and continental plates together should result in the thinner plate sliding underneath the thicker one and an uplifting of the continental crust.  This demonstrates the crust deformation in a subduction zone leading to the formation of Volcanic Mountain ranges.  An example of this is the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate leading to the formation of the Andes.
  2. Convergence of two continental plates results in buckling and uplifting of crust.  An example is the convergence of the Indian Plate with Asian Plate resulting in the formation of the Himalayas
  3. Sliding two plates sideways past each other results in sticking and releasing at the boundaries with little or no crust uplift.  This shows the movement at a Transform Fault.  An example of this type of strike-slip fault is the San Andreas Fault in California.
  4. Students make a diagram of each boundary interaction to keep in a Plate Tectonics Clues folder.