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Lesson summary for:
Determining Age of Rocks and Fossils


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In this series of lessons students learn the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils by using half-life in radioactive decay and stratigraphy.

McKinney, Frank

Grade level:

One to two class periods.

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

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)

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

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

  • Radiometric dating can often be used to determine the age of rock layers and, hence, the fossils embedded in them.

Teacher background:

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