Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed.

This hands-on activity is a simulation of some of the radiometric dating techniques used by scientists to determine the age of a mineral or fossil.

The activity uses the basic principle of radioactive half-life, and is a good follow-up lesson after the students have learned about half-life properties.

Matter is made of minute particles called atoms, and atoms are composed of even smaller components.

These components have measurable properties, such as mass and electrical charge.

This means that lifeless organic matter is effectively a closed system, since no carbon-14 enters the organism after death, an occurrence that would affect accurate measurements.

In radiometric dating, the decaying matter is called the parent isotope and the stable outcome of the decay is called the daughter product.

Instead of using exponents and natural logs, the students can just use a graph of predicted decay rates to determine the number of half-lives the isotope has gone through based on this percentage ().

For instance, in fossil one, the students will take 15 divided by 60 and come up with the percentage .25.

Next, label each bag with a number (1-5), put it at a separate station around the room, and make a sign that identifies the parent isotope type and color, daughter isotope type and color, and half-life.