Nuclear Popcorn

This Nuclear Popcorn lesson plan also includes:

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.

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Pros

  • Helps physics learners visualize the rate of radioactive decay
  • A two-page lab sheet provides a data table, graph, and analysis questions
  • The opposite progression is represented in the teacher's notes with compound interest on a bank account
Cons

  • Be aware of misspellings and grammatical errors, which fortunately do not lessen the value of the activity itself
  • There is no scaffolding or background information provided; make sure to teach the concepts before or after conducting this lab with your class