Day 121: Radiometric Dating

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Students in IS II used index cards to model the radioactive decay of Carbon-14 to stable Nitrogen-14. Keeping track of the increasing daughter isotopes and the decreasing parent isotope allowed them to see how the ratio of C:N relates to half-life and to absolute age. The index card helps them understand the limits of C-14 and other radiometric decay series.

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We then got out the “cubium” atoms (wooden cubes with one side shaded). Each shake of the box represents the passing of time equal to one half-life of cubium. We have all seen this done with M&Ms and pennies but the twist here is that the decay is not a simple 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. Students will conduct three full decay trials, graph the results, and interpret both the data and the graphs.

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