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Milky Way Plate Tectonics

Using candy to teach geological events

Milky Way Plate Tectonics
Stone Middle School sixth grader Molly Stone draws the cracks from her Milky Way after pulling it apart and pushing it back together. The science lesson in Callie Johnsons class is an example of the earth’s moving plates.

Everyone loves sweets, but pairing them with a lesson of the earth’s moving plates is an attention grabber.

Students in Callie Johnson’s sixth grade science class at Stone Middle School were each given a Milky Way candy bar then asked to carefully pull it apart revealing the layers. In terms of the earth’s layers, the outer chocolate represents the crust, the caramel represents the mantle — hot molten rock, the light brown layer is the outer core — liquid iron and the bottom layer of chocolate is the inner core — solid iron.

To study the plate boundaries, the students made cracks in the middle of the candy bar to represent two tectonic plates. When carefully pulled apart to expose the caramel, a divergence plate is formed. Pushed back together, a convergence plate it formed. The chocolate on top either piles up to represent mountain ranges or slides under one another representing trenches. The pulling and pushing of the two sides creates plate boundaries. The students learned that the effects of the moving plates causes major geological events such as mountains, earthquakes, volcanoes and ocean basins. The best part of the lesson was eating the Milky Way at the end.

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