If it were possible, would you rather travel back in the past or forward to the future? Why?
If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go? Why?
Some 240 million years ago, nearly all of the land on Earth was part of an enormous supercontinent known as Pangea. Because of plate tectonics, Earth's surface is always changing. What do you think Earth's surface will look like 240 million years into the future?
According to the article, the Ancient Earth interactive map shows how land on Earth's surface has changed over time. It also offers 26 timeline options, brief descriptions of chosen time periods and has toggle display options related to globe rotation, lightning and cloud coverage. What other options would you add to make this app even better?
- Prior to conducting this activity, access the Ancient Earth interactive map. Using your school's address, select various time periods and work with the app's other tools until you fully understand all it has to offer.
- As a class, in pairs, or small groups, give students access to the app. Have them enter the school's address and give them time to explore how the area around your school has changed over millions of years.
- Instruct students to read all of the content on the screen each time they change the settings so they get as much information as possible. Challenge them to identify the most significant changes that have taken place over time. Encourage them to take detailed notes recording what they learn.
- Using their notes as a guideline, instruct students to write a brief essay describing how the area where you live has changed over time. Challenge them to be as factual and descriptive as possible.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Introduce students to plate tectonics, Alfred Wegener’s theory about continental drift and more with this expansive unit from the Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
Watch this National Museum of Natural History video to see how mapping the location of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes can tell us where plate boundaries are. Dr. Elizabeth Cottrell explains how the plates interact and how volcanic eruptions usually cause earthquakes.
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students will bring in photos and personal items which they will use to illustrate important events in a timeline format. They will design and build a self-standing album, attaching various 2-D and 3-D objects, to create an expressive journal illustrating the important events and objects in their lives.
Invite students to play their way through the last 600 million years with “Evolve or Perish,” the new National Museum of Natural History’s Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems (ETE) board game.
These Paleontology teaching resources from the National Museum of Natural History include short articles written by Smithsonian museum educators; a popular paleontology blog; curated collections of links to lessons, activities, posters, worksheets and more; and videos featuring Smithsonian scientists and experts.
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students will research, explore and experience a space they choose to examine and then attempt to create models of the space in the past, present and future.
To explain the exceedingly long life of the planet, the Smithsonian’s new fossil hall designers began with this arboreal wonder. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn why.