Dynamic Earth Systems
Big Idea: The earth is a dynamic system that is constantly changing due to geological processes that have occurred over billions of years.
Australian National
Content Description
The theory of plate tectonics
explains global patterns of
geological activity and
continental movement
Key Concepts
 The layered structure of
the Earth is a result of its
composition and of the
energy flow and matter
cycling within the Earth.
(LT: 1-2)
 Theories to explain the
Earth’s crustal features
have been revised over
time to include new
evidence as it has
become available.
(LT: 3-6)
 The current theory of
Plate Tectonics explains
the past and current
movements at the
Earth’s surface and
existing geologic
features. (LT: 7-12)
Learning Targets (LT)
Students should know and understand that:
Behavioural Objectives
Students should be able to:
VELS Performance Expectations
Science Knowledge and
1. The Earth is made up of four different
layers, the inner core, outer core, mantle
and crust.
2. The structure and composition of the
Earth has been inferred from
experiments on density and wave
3. Continents are continually being shaped
and reshaped by competing constructive
and destructive geological processes.
4. Due to the motion of continents,
environmental conditions have changed
over time.
5. Initial theories suggested that the
Earth’s surface did not change
(Stationary Theory). With the evidence
of fossils, plate boundaries and rock
layers a new theory of Continental Drift
was proposed.
6. The Earth’s crust is made up of pieces
called tectonic plates which can be
continental, oceanic or both.
7. Convection currents are formed beneath
plates where hot material (e.g. molten
rocks) heated by radioactive decay
processes deep within the earth, rises,
subsequently cools and sink.
1. Create a scale model of the layers of the
earth and discuss how these layers differ.
2 Investigate how scientists use inferences
through indirect observation to predict the
structure of the earth.
3 Create visual representations that illustrate
various earth processes, both constructive
and destructive.
4 Research the history of the Indian-Australian
plate and depict its change over time with
images and summarize the supportive
5 List and illustrate the pieces of evidence that
contributed to the Continental Drift Theory
replacing the fixed Earth theory
5.1 Recreate the supercontinent of Pangea by
piecing together the current plates as you would
a jigsaw puzzle.
6.1 Map recent earthquake and volcanic activity
globally and analyse the resulting pattern.
6.2 Justify the low level of geological events in
Australia due to plate boundaries.
7 Use an experimental model to explain how
convection currents in the mantle move
tectonic plates.
7.1 Investigate the movement within the
Mantle using a simulation and explain the
Analysis of the impact of
factors which cause change
in non-living systems such as
the earth’s surface.
application of models and
laws of science to, modelling
of the geological layers of
the Earth, to predict
tsunamis and earthquakes,
Awareness of the
development over time of a
scientific concept related to
plate tectonic theory.
8. Tectonic plate boundaries can be
converging, diverging or transforming
each with predictable geological
9. New crustal material is added to plates
through the action of the sea floor
spreading or through subducting of two
10. ***Natural disasters occur as a result of
dynamic Earth processes at plate
core, crust, mantle, tectonics, convection,
8 Compare and contrast the processes that
occur at the following plate boundaries:
diverging, converging and transforming. Provide
examples of where each is occurring on the
Earth’s surface.
8.1Cite and describe evidence that supports the
theory that the plates have moved throughout
geological history.
9 Model the spreading of the ocean floor to
explain the creation of new tectonic plate
9.1 Illustrate the process of subduction of two
plates and describe where this is actively
occurring on Earth.
10. Describe two natural disasters that have
occurred in the past 12 months as consequences
of plate interactions.
WT – Worthwhile Task