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Matthew LeaTrea ACF Abstract FY13

"Inquiry into nuclear decay"

Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) 2012

Nuclear chemistry is a topic rarely covered in high school chemistry classes, yet in today's society it is a topic of interest to many students. Furthermore, given the increased concerns concerning nuclear processes, it is arguably an important topic with respect to generating a general population able to make informed decisions about such issues. This activity uses a combination lab stations, online simulations, and demonstrations to help high school students gain an understanding of nuclear decay. By experimenting with safe exposure levels of sealed sources to determine the effects of shielding and distance on radioactive exposure and observing decay particles in a cloud chamber to experimentally determine the half-life of an isotope students gain valuable experience with radioactive decay. They then use computer simulations to better understand alpha decay, beta decay, and nuclear fission. A description of each lab station, suggestions for facilitation, and sample student outcomes will be presented.