Goal of this web page:
Salt Lake School District teachers will be able (a) to go outside with their students, and (b) use skills of “directed curiosity” to guide their students toward content about TECTONICS.
What student questions, or teachers curiosity are pathways toward content concerning TECTONICS?
Almost any question about topography (what is high and what is low) is an opening to encourage curiosity about TECTONICS. For example:
The mountains on the east (the Wasatch Range) is taller than the mountains to the west (Oquirrh Mountains).
Why is Great Salt Lake where it is? (Water runs downhill and because of TECTONICS, that’s the lowest place in our region.)
Earth is round, meaning it’s approximately a sphere. Earth isn’t getting bigger or smaller.
The simplistic model of Earth is: crust, mantle, core.
We live on Earth’s crust. It consists of sediment and bedrock. Earth’s crust if very very very thin. Comparing Earth to an apple, the crust is only as thick as the skin of the apple. The crust floats like a raft or as connected icebergs on the mantle.
Earth is dynamic. It changes. Specifically, the crust has plates, meaning large expanses of crust that are relatively coherent, that move slowly but measurably (for example GPS technology can measure movements). When one plate moves, it affects others. Even within plates, there is some stretching and some shortening. These movements and the processes that drive them are the field of TECTONICS.
Earth science is dynamic. We still don’t understand the processes that drive tectonics, the consequences of tectonics, or even the societal impacts of tectonics. Your students may be the generation to figure some of these big questions.
Patterns: Let your students know: “if you can see patterns, you can be a scientist!”
BIG CONCEPT: In general, regions that look different, are different. Utah’s three regions look different because they have had differing geologic histories, different tectonic histories. Tectonics largely determines the effects of water on Earth’s surface.
PHENOMENON 1: The Wasatch fault zone occupies a region of Earth’s crust where tectonic changes happen.
ADDITIONAL PHENOMENON: The topography of what-is-now western Utah has contrasted with that of what-is-now eastern Utah for millions of years.