Get ready for National Geothermal Day (Oct. 20) and learn where geothermal energy comes from! The Geothermal Technologies Office encourages you to celebrate by following an easy step-by-step tutorial on how you can make a model of the Earth’s layers with household materials.
Have you ever wondered where the word “geothermal” comes from? Break down the word: “geo” means Earth and “thermal” means heat. The inside of the Earth is very hot, and as we go deeper into the earth, the hotter it gets—and that is where geothermal energy comes from! Geothermal is quite literally the heat beneath our feet!
The Earth’s surface—or “crust”—is the thinnest layer, and is where we live, breathe, and utilize geothermal power. The next layer, the mantle, is the largest layer of the Earth and is separated into two sections: the lower mantle and the upper mantle. The lower mantle is made up of hot liquid, and the upper mantle is solid. It is the heat from the upper mantle that warms the thinner parts of the Earth’s crust. We can access the warmed crust by drilling deep wells and circulating water. Don’t worry; we are never accessing the upper mantle in geothermal; that would be wayyyyyy too deep!
Below the two layers of the mantle is the Earth’s core, which is also made up of two layers, the inner and outer core. The outer core is made up of iron and nickel and is mostly liquid. The inner core is the hottest layer and is a solid sphere mostly made up of iron.
Create layers of the earth in your own home by following these easy steps.
- 1 piece each of blue, brown, red, orange, and white construction paper
Ready to Build?
Step 1: Gather all of your materials.
Step 2: Fold each sheet of paper in half
Step 3: Once paper is folded in half, draw half a circle on each sheet using the following dimensions.
- Crust (blue paper): 6 inches
- Upper mantle (brown paper): 5.5 inches
- Lower mantle (red paper): 4.5 inches
- Outer core (orange paper): 2 inches
- Inner core (white paper): 1 inch
Step 4: Cut out each layer and stack them in the following order:
- The crust (blue) is first and will go on the bottom, followed by the brown, red, orange, and white.
Step 5: Glue all of the circles on top of each other in the following order: glue the white circle to the middle of the orange circle, glue the orange circle to the middle of the red circle, glue the red circle to the middle of the brown circle, and glue the brown circle to the middle of the blue circle.
Step 6: Label all of the layers:
- Blue: Crust
- Brown: Upper mantle
- Red: Lower mantle
- Orange: Outer core
- White: Inner core
Let us know how your earth looks on social media by using the hashtag #GeothermalIsSoHotRIghtNow and tag us at @EEREGov on Facebook and Twitter, @EERE on LinkedIn, and @ENERGY on Instagram!