Radioactive carbon dating kids

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.A very small percentage of carbon, however, consists of the isotope carbon 14, or radiocarbon, which is unstable.Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5,780 years, and is continuously created in Earth's atmosphere through the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.This lesson is the third in a three-part series about the nucleus, isotopes, and radioactive decay.

The important element is called The carbon-14 level of the object is then measured by scientists.

They can also apply the new methods of studying old objects to things that have been dug up for many years.

For example, the famous sarcophagus (see pic) of the child Pharaoh Tutankhamen at the British Museum was discovered in November 1922 yet it is still studied by historians right up to today and new things are learned about Tutankhamen himself and Egyptian life as a result.

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.

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