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Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.
Once students begin to grasp "relative" dating, they can extend their knowledge of geologic time by exploring radiometric dating and developing a timeline of Earth's history.
By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out.
By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. Relative dating tells scientists if a rock layer is "older" or "younger" than another.
In this activity, students begin a sequencing activity with familiar items letters written on cards.
However, "relative" dating or time can be an easy concept for students to learn.
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.
By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale.
This relative time scale divides the vast amount of earth history into various sections based on geological events (sea encroachments, mountain-building, and depositional events), and notable biological events (appearance, relative abundance, or extinction of certain life forms).
Objectives: When you complete this activity, you will be able to: (1) sequence information using items which overlap specific sets; (2) relate sequencing to the Law of Superposition; and (3) show how fossils can be used to give relative dates to rock layers.