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Lesson summary for:
Understanding Geologic Time

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Overview:
A web-based module in which students gain a basic understanding of geologic time, the evidence for events in Earth's history, relative and absolute dating techniques, and the significance of the Geologic Time Scale.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
One class period.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Through billions of years of evolution, life forms have continued to diversify in a branching pattern, from single-celled ancestors to the diversity of life on Earth today.

  • The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

  • The fossil record documents the biodiversity of the past.

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)

  • Scientists use fossils (including sequences of fossils showing gradual change over time) to learn about past life.

  • Scientists use physical, chemical, and geological evidence to establish the age of fossils.

  • The sequence of forms in the fossil record is reflected in the sequence of the rock layers in which they are found and indicates the order in which they evolved.

  • Radiometric dating can often be used to determine the age of fossils.

Teacher background:

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