Anthropology

Absolute and Relative Dating

Author: 
Melissa Kruse (ASU GK-12 Fellow) & Ms. Kate Butorac (Centennial High School, Peoria Unified School District)
Grade Level: 
9-10
Standards
National Science Education Standards: 
Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science
Arizona State Science Education Standards: 
Strand 1: Inquiry Process Concept 2, PO 5: Record observations, notes, sketches, questions, and ideas using tools such as journals, charts, graphs, and computers. Concept 3, PO 1: Interpret data that show a variety of possible relationships Concept 4, PO 2: Produce graphs that communicate data Concept 4, PO 3: Communicate results clearly and logically Concept 4, PO 4: Support conclusions with logical scientific arguments Strand 6: Earth and Space Science Concept 3, PO 4: Interpret a geologic time scale. Concept 3, PO 5: Distinguish between relative and absolute geologic dating techniques.
overview: 
This activity has students working as archaeologists. They will excavate a hypothetical archaeological site from their school yard, make observations, and write an interpretation of the history of the area based on the evidence they will excavate. To facilitate the activity, the teacher will provide some introduction to absolute dating principles through the Half Life of M&M Worksheet. Then in Phase 2 of the project, the teacher will provide the students with plastic bins each representing a different stratum of the archaeological site. Using the absolute dating principles provided in Phase 1 of the lesson, students will make decisions of which artifacts to send to a lab for absolute dating. Based on this information, they will learn how to relatively date associated artifacts. They will interpret their archaeological site by writing an explanation of when each stratum and artifact was deposited in their site.
Lesson Plan Procedures: 
keywords: 
radiometric dating, absolute dating, half-life, archaeology
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