Lesson of the Day: ‘Watch This Billion-Year Journey of Earth’s Tectonic Plates’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Watch This Billion-Year Journey of Earth’s Tectonic Plates’

7. The article concludes:

Its scientific uses aside, the animation also resonates with people on a visceral level.

“It’s quite hypnotic,” Dr. Pérez-Díaz said, “even for me, and I see them all the time.”

“A lot of people when they’re young really like dinosaurs and volcanoes and supercontinents and things like that,” Dr. Merdith said. “So maybe this taps into a little bit of that childlike delight.”

What is your reaction to the article and the new simulation of the last billion years of our planet’s history? What was most surprising or striking or memorable? Does it tap into your “childlike delight”? How does it change how you think about Earth and our place within its history? Does it make you more interested in geology, plate tectonics and the Earth? Why or why not?

Option 1: Research further.

What else do you want to know about plate tectonics, geology or the history of the Earth? What questions still remain? For example, if Earth’s continents are still drifting, will they ever collide? Why are there so many earthquakes in California and not in New York or Florida? Will we ever be able to predict them? How exactly are volcanoes formed?

A good place to start your research is The Times’s Earth or United States Geological Survey topics pages, or begin with these past articles on plate tectonics and other deep Earth discoveries:

The Earth’s Shell Has Cracked, and We’re Drifting on the Pieces

Beneath Antarctica’s Ice Is a Graveyard of Dead Continents

Continents Split Up at the Same Speed Finger Nails Grow. And That’s Fast.

The 40,000-Mile Volcano

The Earth’s Hidden Ocean

The Deadliest Quake of 2018 Was Among the Fastest Ever

What 50 Years of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions Look Like

After you research, consider how you might share what you learned: How can you best explain the information to others? You might use information from the article or your own research to create a video, drawing, map, infographic or poster.

Another option? Use your questions and research as the basis for an entry to our Second Annual STEM Writing Contest, in which we challenge students to choose an issue or question in science, technology, engineering, math or health, and then write an engaging 500-word explanation. The contest runs until March 2, 2021.