There isn't much money left in most 2014-2015 science department budgets. For inexpensive chemistry lab ideas, buy my lab book "Chemistry on a Budget" for $20.56 at amazon.com or $23 at lulu.com. It will take a few weeks to get to you, so order now!
This book contains 13 labs using consumable materials purchased from local stores. There are two versions of each lab, one with a ten-question conclusion and one with directions for a full lab report. This way the teacher has the option! Each lab is two pages to allow for one two-sided handout.
My last blog post was an Introduction to the language of Nuclear Chemistry. I've gotten away from listing Objectives, so for this blog post:
1. Explain the process of Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion.
2. Recognize and balance Nuclear Reactions involving Fission and Fusion.
3. Define the Half-Life for a substance and read various reference tables to determine the duration of the half-life.
4. Calculate the half-life of substance, how many half-lives will occur given a certain period of time, and the amount of the original radioactive substance that remains (grams, fraction or percent) given a period of time
Here is an 11-minute video presentation about Nuclear Fission, Fusion and Nuclear (fission) Reactors:
Half-life is the amount of time it takes for one-half of a sample to undergo nuclear decay. Sometimes half-lives are very short and study of these substances is difficult; some half-lives are brief but persist enough to allow for use as nuclear tracers (a medical application); and, some half-lives are very long (thousands of years) which is the concern about the waste from nuclear power plants.
There is nothing that can be done to speed up or slow down the time it takes for a nucleus to undergo decay.
A useful table of isotopes, the nuclear particles they emit and their half-lives is on Page 6 in Table N of the NYS Chemistry Regents Examination Reference Table. http://www.kentchemistry.com/newRT.pdf
Here is presentation solving half-life problems:
44 days = 4 half-lives
Also, I put numbers by the brackets to label how many half-lives have been calculated. Eventually students will feel comfortable not labeling, but they’ll appreciate it while learning the skill.
In the 3rd problem, he omits the units when solving for half-life – putting the units in is a healthy habit and should be required!
At an introductory level, the Chemistry involved is pretty much as simple as this, so I won’t be discussing the math he talks about at the end of the video.
Here is a link to a page with several worksheets about Nuclear Half-Life:
Here are several questions from the NYS Regents Examination, both multiple choice and short answer, for your reference/use:
The Uranium Disintegration Series table on Page 3 (above Questions 32 and 33) could be assigned where the student writes out all of the nuclear reactions in the series, perhaps as an Extra Credit opportunity.
There aren’t many labs that can be completed for this topic, but there is one lab in my book, Chemistry on a Budget, about Half-Life, as well as ideas for articles for use with your class. Links for purchasing the book are at the beginning of this blog entry.
This is an interesting topic for students to research, as a class assignment or an extra-credit opportunity. The accidents at nuclear power plants (Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and most recently Fukushima) and the original atomic bombs in World War II, as well as the debate about the use of nuclear fission as an energy source provide many topics to research.
As an extra, here is an interesting video about a 14 year old who built his own fusion reactor:
Have a good vacation!