Silly Putty or Oobleck - which is a better model for the Asthenosphere?

Because S-waves are able to travel through Earth's Asthenosphere scientists infer that it is nearly solid. However, one of the fundamental concepts of plate tectonics is that this hot, weak solid flows over long periods of time (a property generally associated with liquids). For most students, the notion of a "solid flowing" is very discrepant. Given the discrepant nature of the concept, it is important that learners have an opportunity interact with concrete models of the Asthenospehere so they can add this to their own mental model of plate tectonics. In this activity students will evalaute Silly Putty and Oobleck, both of which demonstrate proprieties of both solid and liquids, as a potential concrete model for Earth's Asthenosphere.


This activity is from Project Earth Science © 1990 Horizons Research, Inc.


Students will be able to:

  • Describe the evidence that suggests that Earth's asthenosphere is a solid that can flow
  • Explain how this understanding of the asthenosphere supports our theory for the movement of Earth's tectonic plates
  • Evalaute obleck and Silly Putty as potential physical models for Earth's asthenosphere


Total Time: 45min
Level: Novice

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