A relative age dating activity answers, relative dating answer key worksheets - printable worksheets

Another numerical relationship is having the students use a method called radiometric dating to calculate the absolute age of the rock. In the second part of the activity, students progress to dating rock layers by sequencing fossils found in the different strata. In the first part of the activity, students are asked to sequence cards by identifying and ordering overlapping letters found on the cards. In this activity students are given a map with a view of the Earth as a whole including the seafloor structures.

Students will be able to infer the relative age of rocks and fossils from index fossils and the ordering of the rock layers. The activity helps students to understand that long spans of geologic time can be broken down into more manageable segments by using relative ages. Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale. This is called relative dating.

Activity idea

Seventh grade Lesson Relative Age of Rocks
Activity idea
Relative dating activity worksheet answers

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. The dig site number is displayed at the top so students can keep track of which site they are using. Students will create a model and explain it to their peers with their moveable continental plates. Both parts of the activity can be completed in one class period. 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.


Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural systems. Relative Age of Rocks Add to Favorites teachers like this lesson. By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out.

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Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. This will enable your teacher to quickly check whether you have the correct sequence. Keep in mind that extinction is forever. Only the distribution of fossils and rocks, the age of rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity.

Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend. The worksheet has labeled data tables used to organize and interpret the findings of the dig site simulation.

  • The data shows a numerical relationship to the age of the rocks.
  • 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.
  • For example, most limestones represent marine environments, whereas, sandstones with ripple marks might indicate a shoreline habitat or a riverbed.
  1. Find a rock layer that has at least one of the fossils you found in the oldest rock layer.
  2. The class was able to identify the culprits, as well as indicate how the law of superposition applied.
  3. Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers.
  4. Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age.

Relative Dating Answer Key Worksheets - Printable Worksheets

Relative dating Science Learning Hub

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For example, students should discuss which fossils are making their first appearance in a particular segment and which fossils have disappeared. All of the fossils represented would be found in sedimentary rocks of marine origin. 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.

Once these answers are shared and evaluated, students would be prepared for a discussion of the Law of Superposition. Throughout the presentation, there are several opportunities for the students to Think-Pair-Share answers to the embedded questions. The simulation has instructions on the left side of the screen with a bar that can be scrolled forward as you proceed. Graphs, charts, i am dating my neighbor and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

In addition, students should discuss which, if any, dating sites with phone numbers of the fossils in a particular segment could be utilized as an index fossil. Introduction to Change Over Time. Teaching about Earth's history is a challenge for all teachers.

Watch a quick video of the students working through both card activities. Home Professional Learning. This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there.

In order to align this activity more closely to this practice, teachers should require students to explain and justify each step of their timeline. The major difficulty that students may encounter is the concept that extinction is forever. Locally, physical characteristics of rocks can be compared and correlated.


Relative Dating Worksheets - Printable Worksheets
Fossils and relative dating
Relative Dating Answer Key

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. By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, sites dating scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale. This quick assessment allows me to verify student understanding of the concept of superposition.

Relative Age of Rocks

Sequence the remaining cards by using the same process. This activity does not address any continental shapes, seafloor structures or plate motions. Specific rock formations are indicative of a particular type of environment existing when the rock was being formed.

Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata. Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. Each card represents a particular rock layer with a collection of fossils that are found in that particular rock stratum.

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On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers. Again, this exercise is only hypothetical but the experience provided to students can be transferred to actual rock data. Only the age of the rock layers and the Law of Superposition are addressed in this activity. 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.

Relative Dating

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. Use this information to sequence the cards in a vertical stack of fossils in rock strata. Only one sequence is correct for each activity, but the answer is easily achievable if students can recognize the relationships detailed in the cards. Science and Engineering Practices. 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.

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