Carbon dating lab activity

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Students begin by pouring the 100 M&Ms on the table, and set aside the "stable" isotopes (M side down).

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.

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.

As far as mastery of content, this activity is done in our rocks and minerals unit.

Easily modified for different abilities, with my low ability I made all the percentages either 75%, 50% or 25% to make it much easier for them. The worksheets can be used in a number of ways, I used them in two ways, I laminated them both in the same pouch front to back for them to use as a mini whiteboard and write directly on them with a whiteboard pen then rub out the ink for reuse for different questions and classes and to use as group work.

Or, just print the graph for all pupils to use independently....

Students will record the number of M&Ms that are still "radioactive" (M side up) in their data table after each run, and set aside the "stable" (M side down) M&Ms.

The Slides are to be shown at the front and then each item is shown in turn and the pupils use their graphs to calculate the age of each item from the percentage of carbon found in them. take longer than you think, but keeps them engaged and there're questions to be answered in their books also. 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.Daughter isotopes are represented by the M side down (stable).For his leadership, Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960. Students use M&Ms to demonstrate the idea of radioactive decay. Parent isotopes are represented by the M side up (radioactive).

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