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With the Half-Life Simulation Radioactivity Classroom Activity Kit, students roll the dice and study radioactive decay. The probability that an atom will decay after a certain period of time can be modeled by another process, rolling dice.

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Roll the dice! Radioactive decay is a spontaneous and completely random process. The probability that a specific atom will decay after a certain period of time can be modeled by another random process, the rolling of dice. In this cooperative classroom activity, students will first weigh 100 dice. A decay number for the dice is selected, and the 100 dice are rolled. The dice that “decayed” (landed on the decay number) are separated, and the mass of the remaining dice is recorded. The “undecayed” dice are rolled again and the entire process is repeated eight more times. Students determine the half-life by graphing the mass of dice remaining after each round. This is a fun alternative activity for students to study the principles of radioactive decay. Teacher Demonstration Notes, extensive background information and reproducible student worksheets are included.

Concepts: Radioactive decay, probability, half-life, first-order rate.
Time Required: 15 minutes


Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Patterns
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Energy and matter
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-4: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.