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This time scale, from the Decade of North American Geology, is widely used in North America.As we improve our ability to date rocks using radiometric dating methods, the time scale is amended.Some very straightforward principles are used to determine the age of fossils.Students should be able to understand the principles and have that as a background so that age determinations by paleontologists and geologists don't seem like black magic. Geologists in the late 18th and early 19th century studied rock layers and the fossils in them to determine relative age.3) To have students see that individual runs of statistical processes are less predictable than the average of many runs (or that runs with relatively small numbers involved are less dependable than runs with many numbers).4) To demonstrate how the rate of radioactive decay and the buildup of the resulting decay product is used in radiometric dating of rocks. (A single watch or clock for the entire class will do.) 6) Piece of paper marked TIME and indicating either 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 minutes.However, it was not until this century that nuclear age technology was developed that uses measurements of radioactivity in certain types of rocks to give us ages in numbers of years.

The written record of human history, measured in decades and centuries, is but a blink of an eye when compared with this vast span of time.

They had no way of knowing the ages of individual rock layers in years (radiometric dates), but they could often tell the correct sequence of their formation by using relative dating principles and fossils.

Geologists studied the rates of processes they could observe first hand, such as filling of lakes and ponds by sediment, to estimate the time it took to deposit sedimentary rock layers.

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Students not only want to know how old a fossil is, but they want to know how that age was determined.