Have them go directly to the Nuclear Structure Systematics Home Page.Once to that page, students should then go to the Isotope Discovery History, a graph of the number of known isotopes versus the date, and to the Chart of Aristotle and Plato (found at the bottom of the page), which the site planners cleverly call "the first chart" of isotopes.The mathematics of inferring backwards from measurements to age is not appropriate for most students.They need only know that such calculations are possible. 79.) In this lesson, students will be asked to simulate radioactive decay by pouring small candies, such as plain M&M's® or Skittles®, from a cup and counting which candies fall with their manufacturer's mark down or up."Today we will simulate radioactive decay to understand what we mean by half-life.Radioactive decay, also known as radioactivity, is the spontaneous emission of radiation from the unstable nucleus of an atom." Have students go to the Isotopes Project website to look for more information about radioactive decay.Include your ideas about how its half-life of 28.8 years would be important.
This is the second lesson in a three-lesson series about isotopes, radioactive decay, and the nucleus.The exercise they will go through of predicting and successively counting the number of remaining "mark-side up" candies should help them understand that rates of decay of unstable nuclei can be measured; that the exact time that a certain nucleus will decay cannot be predicted; and that it takes a very large number of nuclei to find the rate of decay.This lesson can be done in two, 45-minute class periods.It may be combined with the Frosty the Snowman Meets His Demise: An Analogy to Carbon Dating, which can be done while students are flipping their candies.