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Can you teach radioactivity using inquiry? Yes! To beginning science students? Of course!Topics include general properties of ionizing radiation, interaction of radiation with matter (including health effects), the origins of radiation, a simple atomic scale model for half-lives, and nuclear waste. You need some equipment such...
Can you teach radioactivity using inquiry? Yes! To beginning science students? Of course!
Topics include general properties of ionizing radiation, interaction of radiation with matter (including health effects), the origins of radiation, a simple atomic scale model for half-lives, and nuclear waste. You need some equipment such as Vernier radiation monitors, Logger Pro, and radioactive sources.
These research-based materials resolve numerous student difficulties and problematic conceptions that have been identified through repeated classroom trials and interviews with students. For example, students know very little about atoms, they do not distinguish between "radioactive" and "radiation". The course materials deal with both of these major issues along with the idea of contamination, not distinguishing ionizing from EM radiation, and failing to understand the meaning of "ionizing" in the name "ionizing radiation".
The full set of materials uses approximately 40 hours of classroom time and includes detailed descriptions of student difficulties and tactics for addressing them.
The materials were created by Andy Johnson of CAMSE at Black Hills State University with help from undergraduate assistants. The goal is to enable teaching radiation to students using inquiry approaches. The materials have been under development for about six years. This is the latest version as of the summer of 2011. With the assistance of the NSF, work is continuing on this project and additional & improved materials will be available in the future.
Three simulators have been developed for this project: Atom Builder for investigating the properties of atoms, Atom Invaders for investigating the interaction of radiation with single atoms or molecules, and Tracks for working out details of the interaction of alphas, beta, and gamma radiation with everyday objects that the macroscopic, cellular, and molecular size scales.