Determining Absolute Age

This Determining Absolute Age lesson plan also includes:

How can radioactive decay help date old objects? Learners explore half-life and radioactive decay by conducting an experiment using pennies to represent atoms. Young scientists graph data from the experiment to identify radioactive decay as exponential.

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Instructional Ideas

  • Have learners work in groups, especially if the number of required pennies is an issue
Classroom Considerations

  • Experiment requires a large amount of pennies
  • Resource is aligned specifically to Virginia Standards of Learning, so teachers of other states will need to check local and state standards
  • The first installment of a three-part series

  • Pre-lesson activity challenges learners to distinguish between relative and absolute dating
  • Provides separate graph for aggregate class data in case individual data doesn't show the necessary relationship

  • Resource lacks examples of actually determining absolute age using radioactive dating