Exploring the "Breaking Up" of Pangaea

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Updated on Mar 18, 2013

Grade Level: Elementary Type: Earth Science


This model investigates how Pangea might have broken up.


There is a theory that the continents of the Earth have not always been where they are now. This theory is called the continental drift and was developed by a German meteorologist named Alfred Wegener. He claimed that at one time there was only one landmass on Earth which he called Pangea. He hypothesized that over time the continents had broken apart and moved.

Research Questions

  • How could Earth’s continents fit together to form Pangea?
  • What are different theories about how Pangea broke apart?

Terms to Know

  • Plate tectonics
  • Continental drift
  • Pangea
  • Crustal plates


  • Waxed paper
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of flour

Experimental Procedure

  1. Mix 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and small amount of water in a bowl until it is moist enough to stay in a ball. Knead the dough until it is a smooth consistency.
  2. Using your hands, press the mixture onto waxed paper making sure it is flattened.
  3. Set the dough in the sun for two days, until it dries completely.
  4. After the dough is completely dry, use your hands to “erode” the “crustal plate” by pushing down on the outside edges until it cracks. How does this model how Pangea could have broken apart? Why do you think the plates may now have irregular shapes?


Angela Pike has been in the world of elementary education for almost a decade, working as a classroom teacher, school writing specialist, and later a school administrator. After a recent leave from the education realm to stay at home with her children, she channeled her passion for education, science, and writing into a composing articles and educational activities for various companies.

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