Given data from a sample, use a decay curve for a radioactive isotope to find the age of the sample. Explain how the decay curve is derived.
Matter: Properties and Change
In prior years, students learned the basic concepts behind the atomic nature of matter. In grades 9-11 students learn about chemical reactions, starting with the structure of an atom. They learn that the Periodic Table groups elements with similar physical and chemical properties. With grounding in atomic structure, students learn about the formation of molecules and ions, compounds and solutions, and the details of a few common chemical reactions. They also learn about nuclear reactions and the distinction between fusion and fission. These concepts about the fundamental properties of matter will help students understand chemical and nuclear reactions that are important in modern society and lay the groundwork for both chemistry and life science.
The number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom determines the isotope of the element. Radioactive isotopes are unstable and emit particles and/or radiation. Though the timing of a single nuclear decay is unpredictable, a large group of nuclei decay at a predictable rate, making it possible to estimate the age of materials that contain radioactive isotopes.