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Fossils and relative dating

October 2019

Throughout the presentation, there are several opportunities for the students to Think-Pair-Share answers to the embedded questions. The study of fossils and the exploration of what they tell scientists about past climates and environments on Earth can be an interesting study for students of all ages. Graphs, charts, best free and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

Watch a quick video of the students working through both card activities.

Students will create a model and explain it to their peers with their moveable continental plates. The data shows a numerical relationship to the age of the rocks. If certain fossils are typically found only in a particular rock unit and are found in many places worldwide, they may be useful as index or guide fossils in determining the age of undated strata.

Only the age of the rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity. Sequence the remaining cards by using the same process. This activity does not address any water patterns in each of the simulated dig sites and the ancient land would relate loosely to the layers in the simulated dig site. By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out.

Seventh grade Lesson Relative Age of Rocks

Relative Age of Rocks Add to Favorites teachers like this lesson. This quick assessment allows me to verify student understanding of the concept of superposition. In the first part of the activity, students are asked to sequence cards by identifying and ordering overlapping letters found on the cards.


Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers. Students will be able to infer the relative age of rocks and fossils from index fossils and the ordering of the rock layers. This is called relative dating. Another numerical relationship is having the students use a method called radiometric dating to calculate the absolute age of the rock.

Relative dating activity worksheet answers
Relative Dating Answer Key

Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age. After this simulation have the students complete a lesson related what they have learned about the ages of the rocks and fossils, but adding in plate motions. Each card represents a particular rock layer with a collection of fossils that are found in that particular rock stratum. Using the results of these activities, teachers can then lead students in a discussion of the Law of Superposition and the identification and value of index fossils.

Relative dating Science Learning Hub
  • By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata.
  • The major difficulty that students may encounter is the concept that extinction is forever.
  • The activity helps students to understand that long spans of geologic time can be broken down into more manageable segments by using relative ages.

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  1. By having several predetermined stopping points, I am able to give students time to interact with all these new concepts, and turn the presentation into a more interactive learning experience.
  2. Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend.
  3. By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale.
  4. Keep in mind that extinction is forever.
  5. The dig site number is displayed at the top so students can keep track of which site they are using.

Home Professional Learning. Specific rock formations are indicative of a particular type of environment existing when the rock was being formed. On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers. The worksheet provides the background, procedure and data tables from each dig site organized in a way that the data can be easily transferred and analyzed. Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale.

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Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. This activity does not address any continental shapes, seafloor structures or plate motions. Both parts of the activity can be completed in one class period.

Fossils and relative dating

Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural systems. Use this information to sequence the cards in a vertical stack of fossils in rock strata. Again, rogers internet hook up this exercise is only hypothetical but the experience provided to students can be transferred to actual rock data.

In the second part of the activity, students progress to dating rock layers by sequencing fossils found in the different strata. In order to align this activity more closely to this practice, teachers should require students to explain and justify each step of their timeline. Only the distribution of fossils and rocks, the age of rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity. Once these answers are shared and evaluated, students would be prepared for a discussion of the Law of Superposition.

Science and Engineering Practices. Only one sequence is correct for each activity, but the answer is easily achievable if students can recognize the relationships detailed in the cards. The class was able to identify the culprits, as well as indicate how the law of superposition applied. Teaching about Earth's history is a challenge for all teachers. The worksheet has labeled data tables used to organize and interpret the findings of the dig site simulation.

This will enable your teacher to quickly check whether you have the correct sequence. Find a rock layer that has at least one of the fossils you found in the oldest rock layer. For example, students should discuss which fossils are making their first appearance in a particular segment and which fossils have disappeared. In this activity students are given a map with a view of the Earth as a whole including the seafloor structures. All of the fossils represented would be found in sedimentary rocks of marine origin.

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This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there. In addition, students should discuss which, if any, of the fossils in a particular segment could be utilized as an index fossil. Time, space, examples of what to and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. This would also mean that fossils found in the deepest layer of rocks in an area would represent the oldest forms of life in that particular rock formation. Introduction to Change Over Time.

Locally, physical characteristics of rocks can be compared and correlated. The simulation has instructions on the left side of the screen with a bar that can be scrolled forward as you proceed. For example, most limestones represent marine environments, whereas, dating short man syndrome sandstones with ripple marks might indicate a shoreline habitat or a riverbed. Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.

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Relative rock layers Science Learning Hub
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