Convergent Boundaries

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11121

When tectonic plates collide, is it anybody's fault? When plates collide, or converge, the results can be Earth-shaking! Graham cracker squares make a safe model of what happens when plates collide!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What happens when tectonic plates collide? Ouch!

In the previous Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned that the Earth is made up of large blocks called tectonic plates, and those plates are constantly moving.

Before you dive into this lesson, review the following questions:

  • What are tectonic plates?
  • What are faults?
  • Why do tectonic plates move?

Discuss the answers to these questions with a teacher or parent.

You have probably noticed that there are not giant gaps all over the planet between all of Earth’s tectonic plates. That means, when tectonic plates are moving, they are bumping into and against one another. There are three different terms used to describe the way tectonic plates interact with one another: convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries, and transform boundaries. In today’s lesson, you will learn about convergent boundaries.

Look up the term "converge" in a dictionary. If you do not have a dictionary near you, use Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Think about how this definition could relate to plate tectonics. Discuss your ideas with a teacher or parent.

Converge means that things move or come together. Convergent boundaries occur when two plates move towards, and bump into, one another. Typically, the plate that is denser will move on top of the plate that is less dense as the plates push into one another. The plate that slides to the bottom is melted by magma.

The effects of convergent boundaries vary depending upon where the convergent boundary occurs. The plate that is pushed on top can form mountain ranges and valleys above water, and ocean trenches below water. Convergent plates also have been known to cause earthquakes above and below water. To learn more about the effects of convergent boundaries, read’s Convergent Plate Boundaries.


Image courtesy of U.S. National Park Service and, therefore, in the public domain.

 Look at the map above.

  • Where do you see examples of convergent boundaries?
  • Is there an increase in earthquakes in these locations?
  • Do you live near a convergent boundary?
  • Discuss your responses with a teacher or parent.

When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section to assess what you have learned.

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