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Middle School: Plate Tectonics



This guide features teacher and classroom resources for instruction on plate tectonics appropriate for grades 6-8.

Catalog Search Strategies

for information on plate tectonics:
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics history
Historical geology
Continental drift

for information on plate tectonics hazards, or phenomena that demonstrate evidence of plate tectonics:

Library Catalog Materials

Investigating Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes.  (BOOK)
Edited by Michael Anderson.
New York, NY:  Britannica Educational Pub. in association with Rosen Educational Services, 2012  87p.
Call number: 551.22 I625, 7 copies.
A look at plate tectonics through awesome geological phenomena.  Featuring many useful images, graphs and charts, and including a glossary  and websites for more information, this is a strong starting point  for homework assignments,or quick classroom reference.

Plate Tectonics. (BOOK)
by Alvin Silverstein, Virginia Silverstein, and Laura Silverstein Nunn
Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2009, 120 p.  
Call number:  x 551 S5875 2009, 30 copies.
This student reference work introduces the basics of plate tectonics.  Plenty of helpful diagrams that explain the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift make this book a strong classroom resource.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Earthquakes.  (DVD)
Elk Grove Village, IL : Disney Educational Productions, 2008.  
Call # DVD x551 B5965-1, 26 minutes, 38 copies.
Bill Nye explores  earth movement, plate tectonics, and talks to a scientist in the field.  Perfect for classroom use, teachers have the option to go directly to the science standards, use interactive quizzes, pdf handouts and more.

Library Databases

Science in Context   
LAPL Description:  Information on subjects ranging from earth science and life science, to space, technology, mathematics, science history, and biography for assignments and projects.
Content can be searched by keyword, or use the links in the curriculum standards to find resources that meets national and state standards.  Searching under the Topics tab, students will find the Plate Tectonics page were reference articles, the latest news stories, classroom experiments and other useful materials are gather in one page.

World Book Encyclopedia: Student Edition  
LAPL Description: Offers information on a range of topics.
A search for plate tectonics provides not only basic information for students, but maps of the plates, volcanoes, and mountain ridges, as well as an animated video on Pangaea and continental drift to supplement class texts.

Research Library (Proquest)
LAPL Description: General interest magazines on a broad range of subjects from arts, business, children, health, humanities, international, law, military, psychology, social sciences, women's interests and more.
Including magazine, journal and trade papers from both the education and earth sciences fields, this is a great professional resource if you are looking for the latest trends in science education or seeking new resources to use in the classroom.


What in the World? The Earth Explained. Clearvue & SVE. OverDrive e-Video. November 17, 2005. 14 minutes.
LAPL Catalog description: Explores concepts of plate tectonics and seismic activity in terms relevant to primary-age students. Teaches lessons in geology and examines the variance in the earth's surface.
“Enhanced” with additional supplemental material, this is a basic introduction to plate tectonics and earth composition.  

Internet Resources

What on Earth is Plate Tectonics:
An introduction to plate tectonics from the USGS.  This site give a quick, clear introduction to plate tectonics, and includes full color illustrations of the different types of plate boundaries and a map of the world plates.

Volcano World:
For everything your students could ever want to know about volcanoes!  Find out how volcanoes are related to plate tectonics, read an interview with a volcanologist, take a virtual field trip or listen to sounds of volcanoes as they erupt.

Faultline: Seismic Science at the Epicenter:
From the Exploratorium Museum, this site looks at historical San Francisco and California earthquakes.  It includes historical photographs and personal accounts of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, as well as the science of plate tectonics and predicting earthquakes.

USGS Social Media:
Links to all the different social media feeds: twtter, facebook, RSS, podcasts, etc.
RSS feeds on latest activity are available for earthquakes and volcanoes.


For more resources, please visit our related research guides:
Middle School - Earth and Planetary Science: Composition of the Earth
Middle School - Earth and Planetary Science: Geology


Brooke Sheets, Children’s Librarian,  Arroyo Seco Regional Branch (
Karla Gonzalez, Children’s Librarian III, Benjamin Franklin Branch (
Revised 05/09/2012.