In BAESI’s new “Modeling Seafloor Spreading” lesson, students create models which show the formation of new oceanic crust through seafloor spreading and its destruction in subduction zones. They incorporate the concept of magnetic polarity reversal evident in the seafloor, one of many important pieces of evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics. Extend / enrich activities are listed at the end of the lesson, including potential connections to life and physical science concepts and ways to incorporate current research on the possible links between seafloor spreading and climate change.

Guiding Questions

  • What are some ways that the Earth is always changing?
  • How is new seafloor created?
  • How can seafloor provide evidence that the polarity of Earth’s magnetic field has reversed periodically through time?
  • Can changes in the climate affect the seafloor and vice versa?


  • Students will create models of ocean spreading centers and subduction zones.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the following scientific principles through writing and discussion:
    • Seafloor spreading and how new seafloor is created and destroyed
    • How seafloor provides evidence that the polarity of Earth’s magnetic field has reversed periodically through time
  • Optional: Students will read about current research into the possible connections between seafloor changes and the climate, then form hypotheses to predict the possible connections between the seafloor and climate change.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

Click here for more new lessons that help you integrate climate change and other Earth science topics with biology and physical science!


Modeling Seafloor Spreading Lesson Plan