Learn about three common types of radioactive decay: alpha decay, beta decay and gamma decay. You simply subtract your birth date from the current date. It was also discovered that these elements decayed into other elements at fixed rates.
Because these rates do not change and because the radiation that rocks give off can be measured, it became possible to calculate the time the rock was formed or, in other words, the rock's birth date - give or take a few thousand years or so.
Radiometric dating is sometimes referred to as radioactive dating.
This hands-on activity is a simulation of some of the radiometric dating techniques used by scientists to determine the age of a mineral or fossil.
The activity uses the basic principle of radioactive half-life, and is a good follow-up lesson after the students have learned about half-life properties.
Elements occur naturally in the earth, and they can tell us a lot about our Earth's past.
Carbon, uranium and potassium are just a few examples of elements used in radioactive dating.
Matter is made of minute particles called atoms, and atoms are composed of even smaller components.
These components have measurable properties, such as mass and electrical charge.
See the background information on Students will use half-life properties of isotopes to determine the age of different "rocks" and "fossils" made out of bags of beads.
Through this simulation, they will gain an understanding of how scientists are able to use isotopes such as U-235 and Pb-207 to determine the age of ancient minerals. Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and technique.
In fact, you might like this term better, because the dating method relies on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes.