This simple activity creates visual drama as kids assemble a bar graph representing the half-life of a radioactive substance. Since the odds of a penny landing heads is 50% or half, it's a great model to show how half of the substance changes with each measure of time. Extension directions challenge the kids to use nickels and pennies to simulate the cascading nature of radioactive decay. 

 

Use this to learn and reinforce answers to questions such as:

❑ What is the measure of half-life of an isotope? 

❑ Which elements have a half-life? 

❑ How can we visualize what's happening in nuclear decay?

 

Once students work through the activity, they can capture their observations using the included Lab Notes or probing questions included in the instructions. 

 

Concepts Addressed

♦  When an atom gives up particles during nuclear decay, it changes into a different element

♦  Half life is the time it takes for half of a sample to transform into different element(s)

 

Standards Addressed

VA SOL Science PS.5c

 

Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

 

Materials Needed     Nonconsummables: Pennies (100 per lab group). Plastic cup for shaking pennies. Nickels (100 for extension only). Copies of graph template (laminating optional). Copies of directions can be placed into page protectors or laminated. 

 

Prep Time  Photocopying the graph templates (laminating optional).

 

Teaching Time   About 40 mins or more depending on accompanying writing assignment.

 

Student Sheets   Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting 

Radioactive Decay Lab: Use Pennies to Simulate Nuclear Half-Life

$3.00Price

    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

    Connect with me: If you have questions or problems, please let me know and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

     

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