THE PANGEA MAT AND CUTTER - A NEW, IN-CLASS TEACHING TOOL TO DISCOVER PLATE TECTONICS
The tool is used in three easy steps, where students read, create, and revise. Students first read the scientific saga and content, which includes information about plate boundaries and paleogeographic reconstructions, from the front side of the mat. The backside has information about Wegener’s evidence for Pangea. In the second step, students reconstruct the model using the cutter and clay and creatively incorporate the scientific evidence (fossil, glacier, etc.) with additional clay or scratches. Finally, QR codes link students to a website (tcuideafactory.org/pangea-videos) with animations of plate movement and additional evidence and assessments. With additional data sets, students can revise their model to address limitations.
The cutter and placemat allow rapid access to plate tectonic theory and accelerate discussions of the scientific evidence underlying the theory and the role and limitations of scientific models. To date, over 200 teachers in more than 80 independent school districts in Texas and Oklahoma have acquired the mat and cutter for their classrooms. We estimate that 12,000 students have used the teaching tool since its availability in February 2012. Currently efforts focus on broader dissemination with a goal of reaching 250,000 students each year and translation of the content into foreign languages.