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Written by: Krystal Davis
Wednesday March 23, 2016

Dr. Jim Beard and I recently attended Warrior Tech Academy at Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway.  Warrior Tech is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) academy and it is the first New Tech Network (NTN) school in Virginia.  Warrior Tech Academy focuses on collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication.   They employ Project Based Learning (PBL) and Problem Based Learning (PrBL) where students are immersed in a culture that builds the values of trust, respect and responsibility in students.

Warrior Tech Academy

The 10th grade AP Environmental Science Warrior Tech students are currently learning about relative dating and absolute age. Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events (i.e., the age of an object in comparison to another) without necessarily determining their actual age (i.e. estimated age).  Absolute dating is the process of determining an actual age in terms of thousands or millions of years.

Dr. Jim Beard presents information on relative dating and absolute age to students at Warrior Tech Academy.Dr. Jim Beard presents information on relative dating and absolute age to students at Warrior Tech Academy.

Dr. Beard met individually with each group of students to discuss their current group projects.  In order to better explain the concepts to the students, Dr. Beard prepared a diagram for each group and taught the students about the concept of Uranium-Lead dating.  Uranium–lead (U–Pb) dating is one of the oldest and most refined of the dating schemes. It can be used to date rocks that formed from about 1 million years to over 4.5 billion years ago with routine precisions in the 0.1–1 percent range.  It is based on the fact that uranium decays to lead at a known rate.

Dr. Beard met individually with each group of students to discuss their current group projects.Dr. Beard met individually with each group of students to discuss their current group projects.

Uranium-lead dating is usually performed on crystals of the mineral zircon.  When zircon forms in an igneous rock, the crystals readily accept atoms of uranium but reject atoms of lead. Therefore, if any lead is found in a zircon crystal, it can be assumed that it was produced from the decay of uranium.

Tags: Dr. Jim Beard, Earth Science, Geology, Krystal Davis, Research and Collections

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