Radioactive Decay Teacher Resources
Find Radioactive Decay educational ideas and activities
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Students generate a radioactive decay table for an imaginary element using a box filled with pinto beans and M&M's. They use their data to plot a decay graph, develop the concept of half-life, and use the graph to "age" several samples.
Young scholars observe a model of radioactive decay using paper and then consider various related issues.
Make your lesson on radioactive decay pop with this lab exercise. Using popcorn kernels spread over a tabletop, participants pick up all of those that point toward the back of the room, that is, those that represent decayed atoms. As the activity is repeated with remaining kernels, gathered data will illuminate the nature of half-life and decay rate.
After introducing your class to radioactive decay and walking them through the changes in the numbers of atomic particles, give them an opportunity to write equations for the first six daughters in a Uranium-238 decay chain. They also discover how eventually a stable element is formed. This simple activity serves as a support to your introduction to radioactive decay.
Future physicists will be elated as they engage in a demonstration of radioactive decay that uses balloons and pennies. Balloons represent atomic particles and the students themselves are the atoms. After each flip of the coin, some of them decay. The number is recorded for the class each time so that they can graph the results. A simple, but visual, activity will make an impression on your class.
Young scholars demonstrate rates of decay of unstable nuclei can be measured. They understand ratios and multiplication of fractions. They simulate radioactive decay. They read about the accomplishments of scientists.
Students use a video, the Internet and hands-on activities to explore how to determine the age of rocks and fossils based on radioactive decay data.
In this radioactive decay and half-life worksheet, students use given half-lifes to calculate the amount of time it will take for certain amounts of elements to decay. They also find the age of samples and determine how many grams of samples will remain in a given amount of time.
Students describe how the mass of a radioactive isotope changes with time and the factors that affect the rate of radioactive decay. They write nuclear decay equations to represent natural transmutation. This activity is accomplished using pennies to represent isotopes.
High schoolers explore what radioactive decay is and are able to relate it to the concept of half-life. They are given 100 green beads that represent radioactive atoms and 100 white beads that represent stable, non-radioactive daughter atoms. The green beads are placed in one cup and the white beads in another. They are asked to do two trials, one sampling 8 beads and the other sampling 4 beads at a time.
Mmmmm! Radioactive "candium!" Nuclear physics or chemistry classes use M&M'S® to demonstrate the process of radioactive decay. Individuals pour out a bag of candies and record the number that fall M-side-up to represent the number of atoms that have decayed. They repeat the process several times, removing decayed atoms. There are a data table, analysis questions, and a graphing assignment included. Of course, your young scientists will want to eat the candy when they are finished!
Students demonstrate radioactive decay using candy corns. In this Physics instructional activity, students make predictions, collect data and form conclusions about patterns in radioactive decay.
Eleventh graders research how geologic time can be estimated by observing rock sequences and using fossils to correlate these sequences. They examine relative dating and then model radioactive decay in fossils.
Students generate a radioactive decay table for an imaginary element, use their data to plot a decay graph, develop the concept of half-life, and use the graph to "age" several samples.
Students explore radioactive decay. Through various activities, students examine methods for permanent disposal of radioactive waste. After performing a random process experiment, students compare the results to radioactive decay. They answer discussion questions regarding a demonstration of of material.
Young scholars investigae using radioactive decay to determine geologic age.
As physics masters view this presentation, they learn how nuclear power is used in submarines. They use Google Maps to plot a course through the ocean and calculate the time required for surfacing and traveling. They learn about fission, gamma rays, critical mass, and exponential decay. In a second session, they continue to explore radioactive decay and perform calculations using half life. The direct instruction is followed by an activity demonstrating half life using small candies. This is a neat instructional activity for physics, physical science, or STEM classes.
Toss 100 pennies (or poker chips or any other two-different-sided objects) and remove all of those displaying tails. Line them up and repeat. The lines of pennies collected get smaller each time, successfully representing half-life.
This convenient handout will save you and your chemistry aces time. You will not need to prepare notes, and they will not need to consult their texts for future reference. Detailed notes on radioactive decay are provided and learners are taught how to read related graphs and calculate mass over time. Three examples are supplied to complete together in class.
Examples #3 - 5, a continuation of a previous set of examples, can be used to teach advanced chemistry learners how to calculate values related to radioactive decay. Use the first set in class to teach the concepts, then send this set as a homework assignment.