Teaching radioactivity

The Institute has produced a number of resources to support the teaching of radioactivity.

Teaching Radioactivity

These resources aim to help teachers to give students a more authentic and engaging experience of ionising radiations and sub-atomic particles.

Practical Work: Teaching radioactivity videos
These programmes focus on practical activities in which the presenter leads a group of teachers through a series of activities which illustrate the properties of ionising radiations.

There are also four 3D animations designed to help visualise what is happening at a microscopic and atomic level:

Teaching Resources
In addition to the programme there is a wealth of information on the Practical Physics website offering instructions and further guidance on teaching radioactivity:

The Background radiation worksheet (PDF, 1.7 MB) contains information for students to estimate their annual background radiation dose, and the teachers’ notes (PDF, 16 KB) give guidance on using this as a classroom activity.

The Medical physics Powerpoint presentation and the accompanying teachers’ and students’ guides can be used to show some of the practical applications of radioactivity.

Physics Ethics Education Project
Radioactivity is a good topic for helping students to explore the moral, ethical, social, economic, environmental and technological implications and applications of physics.

The Physics Ethics Education Project aims to:

  • Provide up to date and balanced information that students can use to develop their arguments when debating or discussing ethical issues in science
  • Raise science teachers’ confidence in dealing with “difficult” topics, uncertainty and debate, and facilitate students’ and teachers’ discussions of these issues
  • Enhance students’ learning of the science topics involved
  • Help equip students to evaluate many-sided arguments and come to their own conclusions

There are a number of sections of the website which could be used to supplement the practical work that we hope you will do as a result of using this resource:

Teaching Radioactivity
If you are preparing a new scheme of work, we recommend that you look at the resource Teaching about radiation and radioactivity written by Robin Millar and Bryan Milnerand published by the University of York Science Education Group (UYSEG).

A summary of the findings and suggestions on a teaching sequence for radioactivity is available here

The advisory service CLEAPSS, has produced a guide on managing radioactivity in schools. The guide is available here in PDF format.

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