Diamond Impurities and Earth's Tectonic History
Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.
Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:
Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening
Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction
Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6
Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature
Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.
Preparation Time Needed
<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises.
(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)
Most people prefer their diamonds pure and free from imperfections. But a study of more than 4,000 inclusions (pockets of impurities) found in diamonds has revealed that Earth’s plate tectonic history began much earlier than scientists originally thought.
Articles to Share with Students
- Flawed Diamonds Deliver Precious Details About Early Earth’s Tectonics
- Diamond Impurities Bonanza for Geologists Studying Earth’s History
- Diamonds Hold Secret About Plate Tectonics
- Geology: Plate Tectonics
- Diamonds – New York Times Science Topics
- Where Do Diamonds Come From – American Museum of Natural History
- Historical Perspective [This Dynamic Earth, USGS]
Questions for Classroom Discussion
- How and where do diamonds form?
- Define plate tectonics.
- What is the Wilson Cycle?
- How do diamond impurities form? What data are contained in diamond impurities?
- How do we know the age of the diamonds?
- To summarize, how can diamonds tell us about plate tectonic history?
- What is the significance of this new discovery?
Compiled July 28, 2011, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.