Teaching relative dating

Unlike people, you can’t really guess the age of a rock from looking at it.Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.Your goal is to study the smooth, parallel layers of rock to learn how the land built up over geologic time.Now imagine that you come upon a formation like this: What do you think of it? How can you make any conclusions about rock layers that make such a crazy arrangement?Here is an easy-to understand analogy for your students: relative age dating is like saying that your grandfather is older than you.Absolute age dating is like saying you are 15 years old and your grandfather is 77 years old.

Radiometric Dating and the Geologic Time Scale, The Talk Origins Archive. Provides brief overview of (1) relative dating and stratigraphic methods, (2) absolute dating and radiometric dating, including a table with parent to daughter isotopes and half lives of those isotopes commonly used in radiometric dating, (3) paleomagnetics and (4) geologic time. Includes tables of common radioactive parent isotopes and their stable daughter products, and half lives of common radioactive isotopes. As a general note, the Do Now serves a few purposes: After the Do Now, I show them a picture of the Obama family and give them a minute to discuss the question - "Can you sort all of the people in this picture from oldest to youngest?" After 30 - 60 seconds, we come back together and discuss, where I solicit a few responses.Geologists establish the age of rocks in two ways: numerical dating and relative dating.Numerical dating determines the actual ages of rocks through the study of radioactive decay.

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