Use of radio isotopes in carbon dating

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Students should be able to describe an atom and its basic structure.

This lesson helps students understand the important notion that neutrons in the nucleus add to an atom's mass.

Thus radioactive dating relies purely on assumptions.

To demonstrate that isotopes of an element have different masses; that isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons; and that atomic mass is the weighted average of the naturally occurring isotopes of an element.

This is the first in a three-lesson series about isotopes, radioactive decay, and the nucleus.

Prerequisite understanding for this lesson can be found at the 6-8 level, particularly the idea that "atoms of any element are alike but different from atoms of other elements." (4D Structure of Matter (6-8) #1) The ideas in this lesson are essential for building an understanding of the concept that the nucleus of radioactive isotopes spontaneously decays.

Electrically neutral particles (neutrons) in the nucleus add to its mass but do not affect the number of electrons and so have almost no effect on the atom's links to other atoms (its chemical behavior).

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