Making Mountains

A blue, green and grey exhibit stand with a large piece of timber at the front with slots cut into it.
A blue, green and grey exhibit stand with a large piece of timber at the front with slots cut into it.

Mountains form when tectonic plates move against or above each other.

How it works

Push the blocks towards each other. Watch what happens to the blocks, which represent tectonic plates or the Earth’s crust.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

How do some mountains form?

Background

The blocks represent how some mountain ranges are formed by colliding tectonic plates.

Tectonic plates on the Earth’s surface sit on top of magma. The magma heats up and cools down, creating circulating convection currents that shift the plates around in different ways (sometimes by pushing up against each other, sometimes by having one plate slowly 'dive' under a neighbouring plate.

Finding the science in your world

Australia's Great Dividing Range was formed as a series of 'folding' type mountains almost 300 million years ago. Neighbouring tectonic plates slowly collided, distributing massive amounts of force and movement to bend and fold a series of mountains along the range.