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  • Scientists have a variety of methods to use when they try to date a rock or a rock layer. Scientists choose the method that best suits their material – they might use relative or absolute dating or a combination of methods, depending on the type of material they are working with and the precision they need.

    Some methods place rocks in a relative time sequence, but if scientists need to know the actual dates of geological events, then absolute dating methods provide this type of information.

    In this online activity, students learn about four absolute dating methods and then test their knowledge with a quiz that matches materials in rock layers with the most appropriate method.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • use Hub resources to build their knowledge of absolute dating methods
    • use some of the content vocabulary associated with absolute dating methods
    • identify some of the materials that scientists use as clues when choosing a method
    • complete an online quiz to test their knowledge.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Related content

    Dating the past – introduction curates resources that will be very helpful with the big ideas in this activity.

    For explanations of key concepts and content vocabulary, see Dating the past – key terms.

    Dating the past – question bank provides an initial list of questions about measuring the age of rocks and fossils and places where their answers can be found. The questions support an inquiry approach.

    Examples of scientific fields that use dating methods include:

      Published 24 February 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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