Mountain Builders

In science class, you learned that Earth's rocky, outermost covering is broken up into irregular sections called tectonic plates. Tectonic plates float and move on top of a warmer, softer layer deep inside Earth. Movement and interaction between tectonic plates produces earthquakes, volcanoes, and other geologic events and structures. In this activity, you and your family members will learn how one type of plate interaction creates mountains.

Materials

ALT

Procedure

With an adult's help, gather two bath towels. If possible, find towels of different colors; for example, a red towel and a blue towel. Fold the towels to make two similar-sized rectangles. Each folded towel should be about 8 inches by 10 inches. Press down on the towels to force as much air out as possible. Then place the towels on a clean, smooth surface, about five inches apart. Place your hand on one of the towels. Have a partner place his or her hand on the other towel. Now slowly move the towels toward each other so that their edges collide. Watch what happens to the edges of the towels.

Results

What happened to the edges of the towels when they collided? What kind of plate interaction does your model represent? In addition to mountain building, what other geologic events do you think will occur at this kind of plate boundary?