Relative dating activity

Once students begin to grasp "relative" dating, they can relative dating activity their knowledge of geologic time by exploring radiometric dating and developing a timeline of Earth's history. With the pencil tool you can do that in no time. Introductory Geoscience resources from Teach the Earth include: Share buttons are cape agde swingers beach little bit lower. Hide Caption Educators at work.
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Students apply principles of relative dating to a cross-section, then to the surface of Mars. This activity asks students to interpret 1 a geologic cross-section, then 2 the surface of another planet Mars in order to construct a logical sequence of events that explain how it came to look the way it does.

Students need to use principles of relative dating, such as superposition, cross-cutting relationships, inclusions, original horizontality, or original continuity. An extension activity adds a few absolute dates and a couple of fossils to the original cross section and asks students to bracket the possible range of ages for an undated feature of the cross-section.

On a quiz, I ask students questions about individual principles e. On an exam, I ask students to interpret a sequence of events for a different cross section than the one they saw in the activity. This one is often mentioned as an activity students remember, usually in a positive light.

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Your NAGT membership will help ensure this site can continue to offer access to high-quality geoscience education materials. Login now to avoid these messages in the future. Teaching Introductory Geoscience Courses in the 21st Century. What would you like to search? This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection and has been reviewed by 1 other review process.

The five categories included in the peer review process are Scientific Accuracy Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments Pedagogic Effectiveness Robustness usability and dependability of all components Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http: This page first made public: Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend.

However, "relative" dating or time can be an easy concept for students to learn. Once they are able to manipulate the cards into the correct sequence, they are asked to do a similar sequencing activity using fossil pictures printed on "rock layer" cards.

Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata. Once students begin to grasp "relative" dating, they can extend their knowledge of geologic time by exploring radiometric dating and developing a timeline of Earth's history. These major concepts are part of the Denver Earth Science Project's "Paleontology and Dinosaurs" module written for students in grades The module is an integrated unit which addresses the following National Science Education Standards: Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct.

Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist. Fossils provide important evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed. The complete "Paleontology and Dinosaurs" module takes approximately four weeks to teach.

The "Who's On First? Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age. Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers.

Specific rock formations are indicative of a particular type of environment existing when the rock was being formed. For example, most limestones represent marine environments, whereas, sandstones with ripple marks might indicate a shoreline habitat or a riverbed. Return to top The study and comparison of exposed rock layers or strata in various parts of the earth led scientists in the early 19th century to propose that the rock layers could be correlated from place to place.

Locally, physical characteristics of rocks can be compared and correlated. On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers. The Law of Superposition, which states that in an undisturbed horizontal sequence of rocks, the oldest rock layers will be on the bottom, with successively younger rocks on top of these, helps geologists correlate rock layers around the world.

This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there. By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out. By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. This is called relative dating. Relative dating tells scientists if a rock layer is "older" or "younger" than another. This would also mean that fossils found in the deepest layer of rocks in an area would represent the oldest forms of life in that particular rock formation.

In reading earth history, these layers would be "read" from bottom to top or oldest to most recent. If certain fossils are typically found only in a particular rock unit and are found in many places worldwide, they may be useful as index or guide fossils in determining the age of undated strata.

By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale. This relative time scale divides the vast amount of earth history into various sections based on geological events sea encroachments, mountain-building, and depositional events , and notable biological events appearance, relative abundance, or extinction of certain life forms.

When you complete this activity, you will be able to: The first card in the sequence has "Card 1, Set A" in the lower left-hand corner and represents the bottom of the sequence. If the letters "T" and "C" represent fossils in the oldest rock layer, they are the oldest fossils, or the first fossils formed in the past for this sequence of rock layers.

Now, look for a card that has either a "T" or "C" written on it. Since this card has a common letter with the first card, it must go on top of the "TC" card. The fossils represented by the letters on this card are "younger" than the "T" or "C" fossils on the "TC" card which represents fossils in the oldest rock layer. Sequence the remaining cards by using the same process. When you finish, you should have a vertical stack of cards with the top card representing the youngest fossils of this rock sequence and the "TC" card at the bottom of the stack representing the oldest fossils.

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Open the Swatches window. Relative dating tells scientists if a rock layer is "older" or "younger" than another. This will enable your teacher to quickly check whether you have the correct sequence. Source for Mars image: Some critical thinking, data analysis, and synthesis of ideas are involve. Reuse Citing and Terms of Use Material on this page is offered under a Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted below.
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