How stuff works carbon 14 dating

The first lesson, Isotopes of Pennies, deals with isotopes and atomic mass.

The second lesson, Radioactive Decay: A Sweet Simulation of Half-life, introduces the idea of half-life.

99 percent of all the carbon in the world is carbon-12 but some carbon atoms (isotopes) have additional 1 or 2 neutrons.

These isotopes are called carbon-13 and carbon-14 respectively.

Empty the graduated cylinders between classes if the volume is more than about 25 ml.

"Carbon-14 undergoes beta decay with a half-life of 5720 years.

When one of these energetic neutrons collides with a nitrogen atom (7 protons and 7 neutrons), it forces out one of the protons, creating a Carbon-14 atom (6 protons and 8 neutrons).

Written below is the case as it appears on The Case of the Melting Ice student sheet.

By measuring how much carbon is left in a sample as well as its radioactivity, we can calculate when the organism died. In this activity, you will work backwards to solve a puzzle, much like scientists work backwards to find the time that an organism died." Procedure Give each student a copy of The Case of the Melting Ice student sheet.

You may group them in any size group, but working in pairs is optimal for this exercise.

Carbon-14, the isotope with 8 neutrons, is created in the atmosphere.

Cosmic rays enter the atmosphere from space and create energetic neutrons.

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