Classroom Resources: Nuclear Chemistry


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  • Half Lives, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Graphical Analysis of Nuclear Decay

    In this activity, students analyze a series of graphs and data points to discover a pattern, and realize the meaning of a half-life. During this investigation, students will make connections between the concepts of nuclear decay, radiation and the Law of Conservation of Mass.

  • Radiation, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Case Study: The Lung Cancer Mystery

    In this activity, students will analyze a scenario about the sudden spike of lung cancer cases in a specific neighborhood. They will take on the role of an investigative reporter in order to examine important information related to the crisis. The activity will provide students the opportunity to learn about radon gas, radiation and radioactive isotopes. The activity will culminate with the creation of a poster in the form of a public service announcement, where students will focus on the decay of radon and bring awareness to the hazardous radiation that is emitted.

  • Periodic Table, Half Lives, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Why are Some Isotopes Radioactive?

    In this activity, students use periodic trends and data to make predictions about what makes an isotope radioactive. They will then verify or refine their predictions using a PhET simulation.

  • Radiation, Radioactive Isotopes, Fission/Fusion | High School

    Project: Love It or Leave It: Living in the Nuclear Age

    In this project, students will produce a short research essay to examine not only the information discussed in class, but to expand the scope of this fundamental foundation of information to begin to develop their own sense of perspective of living in the Nuclear Age.

  • Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radioactive Decay and Seafloor Data

    In this activity, students will apply their understanding of radioactive decay to analyze and interpret the meaning of Atlantic seafloor isotope data. Students will then use their results to suggest past changes that have occurred with the seafloor

  • Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radioactive Decay and Peat Bogs

    In this activity, students will apply their understanding of radioactive decay to establish that radiometric dating (specifically C-14) can be used to reliably determine the age of Earth’s materials.

  • Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Investigating Exponential Decay

    In this activity, students will learn about radioactivity, exponential decay, and half-life through two hands-on experiences.

  • Atoms, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes, Fission/Fusion | High School

    Activity: Fission vs. Fusion Reading

    In this activity, students will annotate an informational text about fission and fusion using the “text-in-the-middle” reading strategy. They will then compare and contrast the two types of nuclear reactions.

  • Introduction, Elements, History, Review, Atoms, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Activity: What are Isotopes? Video Questions

    In this lesson, students will watch a video and answer questions about isotopes. They will learn about the discovery of isotopes, the difference between chemical and nuclear reactions, different kinds of radioactive decay, and some uses of radioactive isotopes.

  • Atoms, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Using Stable Isotopes to Determine Material Origin

    In this lesson, students will review the concept of isotopes and apply the concepts of stability and relative abundance in order to determine the recent travels of a person of interest in a criminal investigation.

  • Radiation, Half Lives, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radiological Applications of Isotopes

    In this lesson, students will apply their knowledge of nuclear notation using trading cards to investigate and discuss the applications of isotopes 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

  • Phase Changes, Radiation, Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radioactive Dating: The Demise of Frosty

    In this activity students will investigate the idea that carbon dating is based on gathering evidence in the present and extrapolating it to the past. Students will use a simple graph to extrapolate data to its starting point and then pool the data to make a graph that simulates half-life. Students will be introduced to solving mathematical problems that involve half-life.

  • History, Model of the Atom, Radiation, Half Lives, Atomic Structure, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Marie Curie Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a short video and learn about Marie Curie, her Nobel Prizes, radiation experiments, and discovery of new elements.

  • Radiation | High School

    Activity: Nuclear Waste Challenge

    In this activity, students will design a method to transfer “radioactive” waste from a contaminated area to a proper nuclear waste disposal site from a given list of materials. Students must follow rules and constraints when designing nuclear waste disposal devices and make an effort to maximize their economic gains.

  • Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Using Dice to Explore Radioactive Decay

    In this activity, students will use dice to simulate the radioactive “decay” of samples of two different elements with two different half-lives. At the end of the simulation, all the groups will pool their data (by round) and then the class results will be graphed. The graphs will be analyzed to illustrate the process of radioactive decay and to determine the half-life of each element in the fictitious time units of “rounds”.

  • History, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Lise Meitner Video Questions

    In this activity, students will complete a short series of questions as they watch the Founders of Chemistry video about Lise Meitner. The video tells the story of Lise Meitner, a pioneering female scientist in the field of nuclear chemistry, who was denied a Nobel Prize but has an Element named in her honor.

  • History, Atoms, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Atomic Theory, Radioactive Isotopes | Middle School, High School

    Video: Lise Meitner Video

    This video tells the story of Lise Meitner, a pioneering female scientist in the field of nuclear chemistry, who was denied a Nobel Prize but has an Element named in her honor.

  • Radiation, Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Half-Life Investigation

    In this simulation, students will have the opportunity to investigate the decay of two samples of unstable atoms. Students will interact with the simulation in order to decay the unstable samples resulting in a visual and graphical interpretation of half-life.

  • History, Radiation, Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Video: Marie Curie Video

    This video tells the story about Marie Curie, including her Nobel Prizes, radiation experiments, and discovery of new elements. Irene Curie is also mentioned.

  • History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | Middle School, High School

    Video: Ernest Rutherford Video

    Rutherford's initial research was studying alpha particles, which he hypothesized were helium nuclei. With the help of Hans Geiger, Rutherford conducted the gold foil experiment, which justifies that the nucleus of an atom is a dense collection of protons and contains the majority of an atom’s mass. It also inferred that most of the atom is empty space and electrons are not located in the nucleus. He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1908 for his studies on radioactive substances.

  • History, Periodic Table, Radioactive Isotopes | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Video: Astatine Video

    In this video, Sam Kean tells stories about astatine, the rarest element in the universe.

  • History, Periodic Table, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Radioactive Isotopes | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Video: Helium Video

    In this video, Sam Kean tells stories about helium.

  • Renewable Energy, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Combustion, Acid Rain, Radiation | High School

    Activity: Town Meeting

    In this activity, students will learn about acid rain, gas scrubbers, half-life, chain reactions, and other topics around electricity production through a debate on nuclear power.

  • Renewable Energy, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Radiation | High School

    Activity: Nuclear Energy Debate

    In this activity, students will explore the content of nuclear energy in a deeper, meaningful way, and they will also gain practice creating a claim and backing it up with evidence.

  • Renewable Energy, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Radiation | High School

    Activity: Nuclear Energy Power Plants

    In this activity, students will write a persuasive essay in which they state an opinion about whether the number of nuclear plants should be increased or decreased.

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