Absolute and Relative Dating

Author: Melissa Kruse

Area: Life Sciences

Grade Level: 9-10


This activity will guide students through an inquiry-based, critical thinking approach to the study of absolute and relative dating methods.  The students will be asked to apply their knowledge in a similar way to how real scientists approach dating archaeological and palentological sites.  In this lesson, students will interpret an archaeological site and determine appropriate dating techniques. 

National Science Standards:            

Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry         

Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science  

Arizona State Science Standards (High School):

Strand 1: Inquiry Process

Concept 2, PO 5: Record observations, notes, sketches, questions, and ideas using tools such as journals, charts, graphs, and computers.

Concept 3, PO 1: Interpret data that show a variety of possible relationships

Concept 4, PO 2: Produce graphs that communicate data

Concept 4, PO 3: Communicate results clearly and logically

Concept 4, PO 4: Support conclusions with logical scientific arguments 

Strand 6: Earth and Space Science         

Concept 3, PO 4: Interpret a geologic time scale.

Concept 3, PO 5: Distinguish between relative and absolute geologic dating techniques. 


Keywords: radiometric dating, absolute dating, half-life, archaeology

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Lesson Plan (pdf / doc)
 Worksheets (pdf / doc)