Reflection: Modeling Radioactive Dating - Section 2: Explore


Teaching radiometric dating by telling the students what it is, and how it works, at best reaches the students at a surface level of understanding. However, when the students actually get to play around with how it works and experience it first hand, they become much more interested.

Although I would love to be able to actually perform radiometric dating in my classroom, I lack both the materials and expertise. So what is the next best thing? Using a simulation! Simulations encourage deep learning. Students think of online simulations as mini-games but, as they work through the different tasks, they are working like scientists, confirming or dismissing hypotheses. They are paying close attention to the inner workings of the concept of radiometric dating and applying what they are learning to the "real" work of dating the different items. 

The key to successfully using simulations in the classroom lies in finding the appropriate resource. Phet colorado has many simulations in a wide range of math and science topics. They have become my go-to place for quality simulations, and only when I don't find my topic there do I go searching down the "internet rabbit hole".

  Using simulations
  Modeling: Using simulations
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Radioactive Dating

Unit 7: Geologic Time
Lesson 3 of 4

Objective: Students will be able to explain how scientists determine the ages of rocks using radioactive decay.

Big Idea: Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe phenomena.

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30 teachers like this lesson
Science, radioactive dating, relative age, Project Based Learning, PBL, simulation
  45 minutes
radiometric dating
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