Student Exploration: Half-life
Directions: Follow the instructions to go through the simulation. Respond to the questions and
prompts in the orange boxes.
daughter atom, decay, Geiger counter, half-life, isotope, neutron, radiation, radioactive,
Prior Knowledge Questions
(Do these BEFORE using the Gizmo
Have you ever made microwave popcorn? If so,
what do you hear while the popcorn is in the
If you turn the microwave on for two minutes, is
the rate of popping always the same, or does it
Like an unpopped kernel in the microwave, a
change at any time. Radioactive atoms change by emitting
in the form of tiny particles and/or energy. This process, called
causes the radioactive atom to change into a stable
Gizmo allows you to observe and measure the decay of
a radioactive substance. Be sure the sound is turned on and click
What do you see and hear?
I see the red radioactive atoms turn into grey
daughter atoms. And each time the atom is
transformed, a lightning bolt of energy is shown
and it is a clicking sound that I hear.
What remains at the end of the decay process?
Is the rate of decay fastest at the beginning,
middle, or end of the process?
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