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Determining Age of Rocks and Fossils
This activity will help students to have a better understanding of the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils. It consists of several parts: to have students determine relative age of a geologically complex area, to familiarize students with the concept of half-life in radioactive decay, to have students see that individual runs of statistical processes are less predictable than the average of many runs, and to demonstrate how the rate of radioactive decay and the buildup of the resulting decay product is used in radiometric dating of rocks. Students learn to use the principles of determining relative age to show how ages of rocks and fossils can be narrowed even if they cannot be dated radiometrically.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lab activity
Subject:
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geochemistry
    • Geologic time
    • Paleontology
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 1996-2000 by The Museum of Paleontology of The University of California, Berkeley; the Regents of the University of California; and The Paleontological Society. No part of the referring document residing on the server, may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without prior written permission of the publisher, except for educational purposes, and in no case for profit.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-002-423
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Change, constancy, and measurement
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
        • Systems, order, and organization
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
        • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • B - Physical science:
        • Structure of atoms
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Origin and evolution of the earth system
      • G - History and nature of science:
        • Nature of scientific knowledge
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: University of California Museum of Paleontology


Author: Frank K. McKinney
Appalachian State University