Education Technology

Carbon Dating

Activity Overview

This activity requires students to collect data to represent the decay of Carbon-14 atoms using M&M's and Reeses's Pieces. They will find an exponential regression model for their data and use it to apply the half-life formula. The lab was developed from a Numb3rs problem and adapted to the TI-Nspire.

During the Activity

Students will find the relationship that exists between time passing and the decay of Carbon-14 atoms. One hundred M&M's will be placed on a paper plate and then shook up. The M&M's with an M facing up will represent the decaying carbon atoms and will be removed. They will be replaced with an equal number of Nitrogen atoms which will be represented by the Reese's Pieces. Data will be recorded and the process continued until many trials have been done. When the trials are completed an exponential regression model will be found and compared to the half-life formula.