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Radiological Applications of Isotopes (1 Favorite)

ACTIVITY in Radiation, Half Lives, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes. Last updated December 19, 2019.


Summary

In this lesson, students will apply their knowledge of nuclear notation using trading cards to investigate and discuss the applications of radioisotopes in the medical field. The conclusion of the activity includes a summative assessment where students must advertise the radiological services using their knowledge of isotopes and their medical applications.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This activity will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS1-8: Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Define isotope and use nuclear symbol notation to determine the number of particles in the nucleus of an isotope.
  • Apply the concepts of various kinds of nuclear decay in order to predict how parent isotopes decay into daughter isotopes.
  • Discuss and evaluate the applications of isotopes.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • atomic structure
  • subatomic particles
  • mass number
  • atomic number
  • isotopes
  • nuclear decay

Time

Teacher Preparation: 20-30 minutes

Lesson: 70 minutes – 30 minutes of activity, 40 minutes of research and design

Materials

  • Laminated nuclear trading cards (1 deck of 6 cards per 4 students)
  • Laminated periodic table of your choice (1 per 2 students)
  • Student activity sheet
  • Blank paper (for creating advertisements – 8.5” x 11”)
  • Crayons, colored pencils, markers
  • Computer, tablet, or phone with internet access

Safety

  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This activity works well with groups of two to four students sitting at a group table. Give each group a set of cards that includes three parent isotopes and their three corresponding daughter isotopes. They will trade card decks with other groups to get a variety of cards.
  • Students should be somewhat familiar with isotope notation prior to this activity.
  • Advance preparation includes:
    • Printing, cutting, and laminating sets of cards for students to use.It is wise to print multiple sets in color. The number of the set is in the bottom left corner of the cards, and they are also color coded so each set contains cards of the same color. If students have access to electronic devices, then follow Electronic Use below.
    • Electronic Use: You can distribute all the cards as a digital deck (PDF or PowerPoint slides) by uploading the files to a website, Google Classroom, or any other suitable teaching platforms. Electronic distribution may shorten the length of the activity between 5-10 minutes. You may want to take screenshots to create separate images for the parent and daughter isotopes, as they are already paired on the same slide in the PowerPoint format.
    • Create multiple decks, and multiple copies of each deck. Students will trade decks – make sure they are getting a new deck (color of cards/number in the bottom left corner should be different). If students need extra practice, encourage them to trade decks with more groups for a different set of isotopes to solve for.
  • You may use the nuclear trading cards provided with this activity and/or make additional cards with matching parent and daughter nuclides. If you wish to make more cards, you can find more medical radioisotopes here: https://www.acls-pals-bls.com/nuclear-medicine-and-medical-isotopes/
  • Student groups will work on the same sets of nuclear trading cards so the teacher may assess student understanding during the activity and correct any misconceptions.
  • Below is a sample rubric you could use or adapt for grading the radiology advertisements, based on the criteria of the IB Middle Years Programme. You may want to share your rubric with students so they know how they will be evaluated.
Grading Criteria: Reflecting on the Impacts of Science
Achievement Level 1–2 3–4 5–6 7–8
Sub-criterion 1 State the ways in which science is used to address a specific problem or issue Outline the ways in which science is used to address a specific problem or issue Summarize the ways in which science is applied and used to address a specific problem or issue Describe the ways in which science is applied and used to address a specific problem or issue
Sub-criterion 2 Outline the implications of using science to solve a specific problem or issue, interacting with a factor Describe the implications of using science to solve a specific problem or issue, interacting with a factor Discuss the implications of using science to solve a specific problem or issue, interacting with a factor Discuss and evaluate the implications of using science to solve a specific problem or issue, interacting with a factor
Sub-criterion 3 Apply scientific language to communicate understanding Sometimes apply scientific language to communicate understanding Usually apply scientific language to communicate understanding clearly and precisely Consistently apply scientific language to communicate understanding clearly and precisely
Sub-criterion 4 Document sources. Sometimes document sources correctly. Usually document sources correctly. Document sources completely.

For the Student

Lesson

Background

When radiology was first discovered, people went crazy attempting to sell radioactive isotopes as cures to diseases. However, many people developed diseases from these unapproved medical therapies. Today, scientists are much more knowledgeable about isotopes and have worked diligently to develop isotopes that are safe to use in the medical field, primarily in disease detection and treatment.

In this activity, you work in the radiology department of a hospital that offers a variety of radiotherapy services. You must first create a list of all the isotopes that your department carries for medical treatment. After carefully conducting research and deliberating with your colleagues, you will select one isotope and create a one-page advertisement to recruit patients to your office for medical treatment.

Objective

Using your extensive knowledge of protons, neutrons, and mass number, complete the nuclear notation for each nuclear trading card and discover how isotopes are used in the medical field.

Procedure

  1. Match the parent isotope cards with their corresponding daughter isotope cards.
  2. Use the periodic table and the information on the cards to determine the name, symbol, atomic number, and mass number of the parent isotope card and the daughter isotope card.
  3. Using nuclear/isotope notation, record the answers for all six cards from your deck in the data table.
  4. Reflect: Choose 1 of the 3 parent isotope discovered in your deck. Write down the name and mass number of the isotope that you believe has the greatest impact and its scientific application.
  5. Trade your deck with another group or with your teacher.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 until you have gone through three different decks.

Data

Deck # Parent 1 Daughter 1 Parent 2 Daughter 2 Parent 3 Daughter 3

Parent isotope of greatest impact from this deck

Parent isotope of greatest impact from this deck

Parent isotope of greatest impact from this deck

Analysis

1. State the subatomic particle responsible for the identity of the atom.
2. State the subatomic particle that changes the mass of an atom, but not its identity.
3. Citing evidence from your data table, list two isotopes whose mass numbers differ from what is predicted by the periodic table.
4. State one example of an isotope in which the atomic number of the daughter isotope increased. Research and summarize the process of how that parent isotope becomes the daughter isotope.
5. State one example of an isotope in which the atomic number of the daughter isotope decreased. Research and summarize the process of how that parent isotope becomes the daughter isotope.

Conclusion

Radiology Advertisement

Choose a parent isotope from this activity (or find another radioisotope used in medicine) and research its medical uses in more detail. Choose a name for your hypothetical radiology department, which uses this isotope, and create a one-page informational advertisement about its uses that reflects on the impacts of radioisotopes. Overall, you want to advertise to individuals suffering from a disease or ailment and recruit them as patients in your radiology department. Your advertisement will be graded on your ability to:

  • Describe the ways in which your isotope is applied and used to address a specific problem or issue.Include information about parent/daughter isotopes, how the isotopes are prepared, the half-life and type of decay (beta decay, electron capture, positron emission, etc.).
  • Discuss and evaluate the implications of using your isotope and its application to solve a specific problem or issue. Note that discussing and evaluating means to weigh the pros/cons or advantages/disadvantages of using your isotope.
  • Consistently apply scientific language to communicate understanding clearly and precisely.
  • Document all sources in proper MLA format on the back of your advertisement or a separate sheet of paper. Include at least 2 appropriate sources.

Your advertisement may be in any of the following formats:

Project Format Choices: Limit all projects to one sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper.
Digital Poster Physical Poster Brochure/Pamphlet