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Conceptual thinking versus plug-and-chug problem solving: Radiocarbon dating and interactive animated spreadsheets Scott A. Sinex and Barbara A. Gage Prince Georges Community College Presented at ACS MARM, College Park, MD, May 2011

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The classic decay equation where P = number of parent nuclei, P o = parent number at t = 0, t = time, and k = rate (decay) constant P D parent daughter So do we just plug-and-chug out some ages?

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How do the General Chemistry textbooks do? Todays discussion

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So can we approach the topic of radiocarbon dating from the conceptual thinking direction and in an interactive fashion using spreadsheets?

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The radioactive decay concept

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The P o assumption in radiocarbon dating

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The input-output model

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Dating and possible uncertainties

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Assessment… Eight questions – maximum score of 30 points

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Student Survey Feedback (n = 24 students) Ease of overall use of the Radiometric Dating III: Carbon-14 Method Excelet: real difficult difficult so, so easy real easy 2.5% (3) 8.3% (2) 29.2 (7) 41.7% (10) 8.3% (2) I like the interactive nature of Excelets because it lets me play & experiment discover on my own think all of these dont know 18.5% (5) 22.2% (6) 18.5% (5) 29.6% (8) 7.4% (2)

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In the end… A more conceptual approach Numerical experimentation Higher-order questions addressed More science process and it appears students liked it

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More on radiometric dating Sinex, S.A. (2010) Radiometric Dating for Novice Learners: Visualizing, Modeling, and Simulating via Animated Spreadsheets, Spreadsheets in Education 4 (2), Article 5 Radiometric dating – D/P methods Radiocarbon dating Excelets

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More info… Scott Sinex Barb Gage Thanks for attending!!!

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excelets

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