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Geologic Age: Using Radioactive Decay to Determine Geologic Age

Geologic Age: Using Radioactive Decay to Determine Geologic Age

This activity will demonstrate to students how geologists determine the absolute age of rocks or minerals. Students will simulate radioactive decay by using markers shaken in a box and removed as they are deemed to have decayed. Students count the remaining (undecayed) markers after each of twelve trials and record the results in a chart. They then use the data collected in the chart to construct a graph. After completing this activity, students will be able to explain radioactive decay of an element, define half-life and how it can be used as an atomic clock, compare relative and absolute dating, and discuss differences in these two ways of dating materials. They should also be able to make predictions based on half-life data.

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