Define radiometric dating of fossils

It is estimated to require four hours of class time, including approximately one hour total of occasional instruction and explanation from the teacher and two hours of group (team) and individual activities by the students, plus one hour of discussion among students within the working groups.

Explore this link for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson: This activity will help students to have a better understanding of the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils. Objectives of this activity are: 1) To have students determine relative age of a geologically complex area.

U-235 is the parent isotope of Pb-207, which is the daughter isotope.

Many rocks contain small amounts of unstable isotopes and the daughter isotopes into which they decay.

2) To familiarize students with the concept of half-life in radioactive decay.

3) To have students see that individual runs of statistical processes are less predictable than the average of many runs (or that runs with relatively small numbers involved are less dependable than runs with many numbers).

The teacher should tell the students that there are two basic principles used by geologists to determine the sequence of ages of rocks.

They are: Principle of superposition: Younger sedimentary rocks are deposited on top of older sedimentary rocks.

Return to top A tasty way for students to understand about half life is to give each team 100 pieces of "regular" M & M candy.

In other words, during 704 million years, half the U-235 atoms that existed at the beginning of that time will decay to Pb-207. Many elements have some isotopes that are unstable, essentially because they have too many neutrons to be balanced by the number of protons in the nucleus.

Each of these unstable isotopes has its own characteristic half life.

It wasn't until well into the 20th century that enough information had accumulated about the rate of radioactive decay that the age of rocks and fossils in number of years could be determined through radiometric age dating.

This activity on determining age of rocks and fossils is intended for 8th or 9th grade students.

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