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In the General, Organic and Biological Chemistry (GOB) Lab Kit: Properties of Nuclear Radiation, students compare the properties of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The effectiveness of different shielding will also be determined.

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General, Organic and Biological Chemistry Nuclear radiation is potentially harmful to living organisms. Despite its potential danger, nuclear radiation has been harnessed for many beneficial purposes, including nuclear medicine and nuclear energy. How do workers in hospitals and nuclear power plants protect themselves from the harmful effects of nuclear radiation? In this experiment, students compare the properties of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The activity (counts per minute) of low-level α, β, and γ sources are measured using a Geiger-Müller radiation detector, which “counts” the number of atoms ionized by nuclear radiation. Students investigate the relative penetrating power of α, β, and γ radiation by measuring how the recorded activity changes when they place different materials between the source and the detector. The effectiveness of different shielding materials will also be determined. Complete for 24 students working in groups of three. Radioactive sources and measuring equipment are required and available separately.

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
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS1.C: Nuclear Processes
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties

Crosscutting Concepts

Stability and change
Energy and matter
Systems and system models
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Cause and effect

Performance Expectations

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.
HS-PS4-4. Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.