Kids learn radiocarbon dating

When isotopes are unstable they emit energy in the form of radiation.

The curie was named after Marie and Pierre Curie who discovered the element radium. The half-life of an isotope is the time on average that it takes for half of the atoms in a sample to decay.

Isotopes are atoms with the same number of protons and electrons, but a different number of neutrons. These are the elements that we see around us and find in nature. Radioactivity is measured using a unit called the "curie". The curie measures how many atoms spontaneously decay each second.

There are three main types of radiation or radioactive decay depending on the isotope.

You might suggest that the students experiment with their graphing results to see if trends begin to form.

It is a great introduction to the scientific process of deducing, forming scientific theories, and communicating with peers.

It is also useful in the mathematics classroom by the process of graphing the data.

By extension, this experiment is a useful analogy to radioactive decay and carbon dating.

Students use M&M’s (or pennies and puzzle pieces) to demonstrate the idea of radioactive decay.

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