Teaching relative age dating

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Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.

Once students begin to grasp "relative" dating, they can extend their knowledge of geologic time by exploring radiometric dating and developing a timeline of Earth's history.

In this activity, students begin a sequencing activity with familiar items — letters written on cards.

Once they are able to manipulate the cards into the correct sequence, they are asked to do a similar sequencing activity using fossil pictures printed on "rock layer" cards.

[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: Dating & Rock Layering (Whole Lesson w/comments).

The Law of Superposition, which states that in an undisturbed horizontal sequence of rocks, the oldest rock layers will be on the bottom, with successively younger rocks on top of these, helps geologists correlate rock layers around the world.

This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there.

PALEONTOLOGY, AND in particular the study of dinosaurs, is an exciting topic to people of all ages.

Although most attention in today's world focuses on dinosaurs and why they became extinct, the world of paleontology includes many other interesting organisms which tell us about Earth's past history.

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