Note (1/11/2017): this site is new and is being added to. You are invited to watch the video, below and see if the beta version of Plate Tectonics Explorer might fit your needs. Lessons and activities that go with the application will be added.


  • Scaffolded lessons including quiz questions, short (and longer) writing activities, and inquiry analysis activities
  • Animations that show plate motion
  • Brief questions that can be used to initiate class discussions.
  • Video lessons showing how science “really”works.

Plate Tectonics Explorer

This application provides students with real Earth data that can be used in arguments supporting the theory of plate tectonics. With so many learning resources available for the topic, why is this application unique? This resource enhances inquiry learning by making it easy for students to access and use real data just like practicing scientists. It is in contrast to textbook type animations and other visuals that tell the entire story while the student views or listens passively. Learners view a range of data types at locations of their choice on a world map  using a simple point and click interface. Images of the chosen data plots can be edited, combined, and captioned as part of a science paper. This application has been used successfully in introductory college level Earth science courses and at middle school and high school levels.

The video demonstrates its use. To download a beta version of Plate Tectonics Explorer, click (downloads).

Applications that support learning about the Earth