Radiometric dating worksheet
This hands-on activity is a simulation of some of the radiometric dating techniques used by scientists to determine the age of a mineral or fossil.
The activity uses the basic principle of radioactive half-life, and is a good follow-up lesson after the students have learned about half-life properties.
Next, label each bag with a number (1-5), put it at a separate station around the room, and make a sign that identifies the parent isotope type and color, daughter isotope type and color, and half-life.
For instance, your five bags might be set-up something like: When class begins, tell the students that in this activity they will use their knowledge of ratioactive decay and half-life properties to figure out the age of five different "fossils" at different stations around the room.
Before class begins, prepare five bags filled with about 100 beads each.After all, textbooks, media, and museums glibly present ages of millions of years as fact.Yet few people know how radiometric dating works or bother to ask what assumptions drive the conclusions. This figure wasn’t established by radiometric dating of the earth itself. Radiohalos shouldn’t exist, according to conventional wisdom!Radioactive isotopes are unstable and undergo spontaneous nuclear reactions, emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation.The decay of any one nucleus cannot be predicted, but alarge group of identical nuclei decay at a predictable rate.
A sample of plant material from an ancient Egyptian tomb has an activity of 9.07 decays per minute per gram of carbon.