Count "atoms" in simulated rock samples of different "ages". Students relate half-lives of radioisotopes to the application of dating rocks. Sequence all known radioisotopes with half-lives greater than 1 million years; look for pattern, showing that all longer-lived isotopes are still with us, and the shorter-lived ones are not, indicating a finite age of our solar system, and that its age must be in the millions or billions of years.
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Do the Deep Time lesson, which emphasizes why we are so confident of geological age dates. Do the Virtual Age Dating Tutorial online , for further reinforcing of half-life concept and how this is applied to dating rocks. This is especially helpful in explaining how isochrones work, and why they are so compelling.
Consider using other items to replace the beans and popcorn. Also consider permanently sealing each set in its plastic bag, if you have such a device.
If you have a fair number of math-literate students, consider providing a number of bags "rock samples" with ratios other than precise half-life proportions, and have class create a half-life curve and figure out the age of their particular samples according to where they fit on the curve. Encourage or even facilitate students to do the online Virtual Age Dating Tutorial , using a high speed internet connection, with the prospect of earning their official "Certificates of Completion as a Virtual Geochronologist".
Consider taking your students on a simulated journey back in time in our Time Machine. It's an experience they'll never forget well, maybe in time.
Be sure to display a scaled geological time in your room throughout the year, something you can use repeatedly, helping your students to internalize the relative timing for events occurring in geological history. See the Time Machine lesson for specifics. If the reader believes this to be the case, please let us know, and appropriate corrections will be made. Join us at http: Join today and your membership will help ensure that this site can continue to serve geoscience educators.
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Material on this page is offered under a Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted below. Rates, Dates and Geologic Time: Teaching about the Temporal Aspects of Geoscience.
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What would you like to search? This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are Scientific Accuracy Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments Pedagogic Effectiveness Robustness usability and dependability of all components Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http: This page first made public: One version of the lab has been used in introductory geology for non-majors, another has been used with geology graduate students the more complicated one , and it has been modified for early high school students.
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Teaching radioactive decay & radiometric dating: an analog activity based on fluid dynamics
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