Mr Calaski

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Convection in the mantle

In this lesson, students observed convection cells inside of a flow indicator (rheoscopic fluid).  We used candles to simulate the heat from the earth’s core, and the fluid acted like the earth’s mantle.  Students learned that when opposing convection cells are formed, the lithospheric plates will separate, just like sea-floor spreading.  When two convection cells are spinning towards each other, the lithospheric plates will collide to form trenches, mountains, and volcanoes.


Use a flow indicator, rheoscopic fluid, to model convection currents in the earth’s mantle.

Identify movement in the earths mantle as one cause of plate movement, earthquakes, and volcanoes.


1.  Heat moves from warmer to cooler objects.

2.  Scientists believe convection is the driving force behind the movement of lithospheric plates.

Watch this video to see how convection in the mantle drives plate movement: