NOTICE: If a student ever challenges you with criticisms of the reliability or validity of geological age-dating methods, CLICK HERE

off-site; this is not an ENSI lesson
CLICK on the title above to access the program

Virtual Dating contains two options as well as a demonstration version:
1. Virtual Dating Isochrons for rocks and minerals
2. Virtual Dating Radiocarbon (Carbon-14)
3. Virtual Dating Demo If you just want to do a quick run-through of the activity, try the "Demo" version-- (answer-checking and other feedbacks are not implemented).

Don't miss this excellent tutorial for teaching these three aspects of geological age dating. Each part is totally interactive and animated. Check questions are asked along the way to assess understanding. The final phase of the two dating concept routines provide an opportunity to simulate data collection and analysis. Those who complete a tutorial will have a real sense of achievement and understanding (and will receive a certificate!). Therefore, this online-interactive could be assigned as homework (optional or otherwise - if all students have internet access.

If done in class, here are some tips from a beginning teacher who did this:
The virtual dating lab that I did with the students went well and I would do it again in the future but with a few changes.

First, I would do a little bit more review of reading charts and graphs. This is a skill that I assumed my seniors to be a little better at doing than they were. Many of them had more difficulties than I expected.

Second, the lab took 2 days to complete and in order to complete the lab you have to start at the beginning and continue through to the end. Therefore, I will have the students write down their answers as they progress through the site so that when they restart it the next day they are not starting over again and will save valuable time.

I think that by making these changes the lab will go much smoother and save time.

Overall, I think that the students learned a lot and definitely increased their knowledge on radioactive dating and how it is used to date rocks and the layers of the Earth.

Patti Bodnar
University Preparatory High School
Detroit MI

CAUTION: The applets used in the tutorial require considerable memory, so there may be some pauses for them to load from phase to phase. High speed connections (e.g. DSL) are a big help. In addition, be sure to check the System and Technical Requirements provided. One of the Isochron routines (near the end) didn't want to run on a Netscape 4.7 browser (in a Mac PowerBook G3 with OS9), but Internet Explorer 5.0 worked fine.
This interactive experience is one of the products of the Virtual Courseware/ Geology Labs Online project, California State University, Los Angeles.

PRELIMINARY LESSON: The ENSI lesson "DEEP TIME" was developed partly to prepare students for the Virtual Age Dating lesson. Both lessons should provide compelling evidence for the high confidence science has for the reliability of these age-dating processes and the billions of years since our Earth was formed.