For kids who are yet to be introduced to concept of radio-active compounds and elements. Concept of carbon dating technique does look alien.
But then they end up reading in books/news-paper about it and ask question arises what is carbon dating technique?
[Image taken from https://answersingenesis.org]
Obviously one can’t go to details of the actual method , since it will require knowledge of chemistry which little ones do not have.
So this is what we tried at home, it does not at all replicate the carbon dating technique, but it kind of gives an idea of how it works.
- a sponge block (the one we use for utensils) ,
- some water based color. We used Robin Blue liquid whitener here.
- A small plastic container
- A big deep tray.
Soak the sponge in blue liquid. Keep the plastic box inside the big tray. Let your soaked sponge rest on it.
Show the child how dark colored it looks when it is freshly taken out of blue liquid.
Let the child observe the sponge after few hours. Obviously some colored water will drain out from sponge and it will be in the bigger tray. The sponge’s water content will be reduced.
Keep observing the sponge with child every day and let them comment about the state of sponge. The gradual change in color and reduction of water content. How water in the bottom tray is increasing each day? Ask kid to observe that first day it was quite damp as its age increases it becomes dry. Also highlight that as more days pass , ie the age of soaked sponge increases , it becomes more dry and loses its blue color.
Now relate it to carbon dating technique. Explain there is something called Carbon 14 in all living objects , similar to the blue liquid in sponge. Once a living being dies , the Carbon 14 slowly reduces (disappears) , how blue color and water from sponge disappeared.
Scientist use this carbon-14 to determine age of dead animals/trees or fossils. Like how you figured out by touching the sponge and seeing its color that it must have soaked in water few days ago.
I agree , It is no where near to a C-14 dating experiment, but I found this is a good exercise to explain the concept at home rather than just letting them read the text from books.
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