Radiocarbon dating for kids

When a volcano erupts, hot, molten rock (called “lava”) from deep inside the Earth is released. Elements are the “building-blocks” of the universe (for example, water is made from the elements hydrogen and oxygen).Some elements (we’ll call them “A”) in the lava are radioactive, which means that they change into other elements (we’ll call these “B”).When these (and other) problems are then taken into account, a scientist can interpret the result of the carbon dating within a Biblical timeframe, but even so, these results can not be used to the age of once-living things.Most people think that scientists can actually measure the ages of rocks, using a method called “radiometric” or “radioisotope” dating.More often, rocks are “dated” by the fossils they contain, based on a pre-existing belief in evolution.

The test results ranged from between 340,000 to 2.8 million years old!

Scientists in the fields of geology, climatology, anthropology, and archaeology can answer many questions about the past through a technique called radiocarbon, or carbon-14, dating.

One key to understanding how and why something happened is to pinpoint when it happened.

After examining the assumptions behind this “dating method”, and doing scientific experiments to see if this method works on rocks of an already known age, we find that “radiometric dating” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Did you ever wonder how scientists know a fossil is 10,000 years old or a piece of paper is 2,000 years old? In this lesson you'll learn about carbon dating and how it works.

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