The exercise they will go through of working backwards from measurements to age should help them understand how scientists use carbon dating to try to determine the age of fossils and other materials.
To be able to do this lesson and understand the idea of half-life, students should understand ratios and the multiplication of fractions, and be somewhat comfortable with probability.
History and Uses: Carbon, the sixth most abundant element in the universe, has been known since ancient times.
Amorphous carbon is formed when a material containing carbon is burned without enough oxygen for it to burn completely.
The second lesson, Radioactive Decay: A Sweet Simulation of Half-life, introduces the idea of half-life.
By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that all matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
Beta Analytic’s radiocarbon dating fees are inclusive of δ13C measurements by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) and calendar calibration when applicable, δ18O for carbonates, and δD (deuterium) and δ18O for water.
While there is no proof that the rates were different in the past than they are today, there is also no proof that they were the same.
Thus radioactive dating relies purely on assumptions.
This lesson is the third in a three-part series about the nucleus, isotopes, and radioactive decay.
The first lesson, Isotopes of Pennies, deals with isotopes and atomic mass.