Definition carbon dating kids
We have already learned that ions are atoms that are either missing or have extra electrons. They are just a little different from every other atom of the same element. Electrons don't have much of a mass when compared to a neutron or proton.
Let's say an atom is missing a neutron or has an extra neutron. An atom is still the same element if it is missing an electron. For example, there are a lot of carbon (C) atoms in the Universe. Atomic masses are calculated by figuring out the amounts of each type of atom and isotope there are in the Universe.
Scientists use C-14 in a process called carbon dating.
If you have looked at a periodic table, you may have noticed that the atomic mass of an element is rarely an even number. If you are an atom with an extra electron, it's no big deal.
As you learn more about chemistry, you will probably hear about carbon-14. C-14 is considered an isotope of the element carbon.
For carbon, there are a lot of C-12, a couple of C-13, and a few C-14 atoms.
When you average out all of the masses, you get a number that is a little bit higher than 12 (the weight of a C-12 atom).