Radioactive dating lesson plan
Although students could work through the simulation individually, I prefer partnerwork to foster discussion among students, encouraging scientific discourse (SP7).
In this video I walk you through using the simulation.
They then gather the radioactive, or M side up M&Ms, put them back in the container, and then pour them out again. and continue this process until all M&Ms are stable, or M side down.
During each trial, students record the number of radioactive parent isotopes and record this in a data table.
Use the percent of an isotope measured in an object to estimate its age.
Identify types of nuclear reaction used for dating; include how elements change and balanced reaction.
Students use M&Ms to demonstrate the idea of radioactive decay. Parent isotopes are represented by the M side up (radioactive).
Paul, MN, based on an original activity retrieved from also with the help of Jenni Johansen (other 8th grade science teacher at So. Paul Junior High School In this activity, students gain a better understanding of radioactive dating and half-lives.
I designed this activity to follow Alpha and Beta decay activities.
The first post question caused some confusion: Why didn't each group get the same results?
A lot of the students said because they shook the containers differently... I also have students wash their hands before the activity, because of course after, the students eat the M&Ms. Radioactive decay and half-lives can be a very difficult concept for our 8th graders to grasp.
Equipment that is necessary is M&Ms-- a lot because each group needs to begin with 100, and a container with a cover for each group.
Students should have the skill to set up a data table and a graph, however, if you want to use this activity with students that have not, you can provide them a template with that information.