Education Technology

Earth Science: Radioactive Dating Game (MG)

by Texas Instruments - Simulation Lesson


  • Students will learn that when isotopes of different atoms change chemically (in a decomposition reaction), they will emit radioactivity in the process.
  • Students will discover that Carbon-14 is more useful for dating younger fossils and Uranium-238 is more useful for dating older fossils.
  • Students will learn that younger fossils are located in the upper layers under Earth's surface and older fossils found in lower layers.


  • isotopes
  • decompose
  • Carbon-14
  • Uranium-238
  • radioactivity
  • radioactive dating
  • half-life
  • archeological site

About the Lesson

Adapted from a PhETTM simulation, this lesson involves students using TI-Nspire technology to simulate radioactive dating at an archeological site.

As a result, students will:

  • Reinforce understanding of the atom and its parts.
  • Learn how the amount of radioactive emissions given off by certain isotopes as they decompose can help determine the age of fossils.
  • The decomposition rate of Carbon-14 is more useful for dating young fossils and the decomposition rate of Uranium-238 is more useful for dating older fossils.

PhET is a trademark owned by the Regents of the university of Colorado, which was not involved in the production of, nor do they endorse this product.