Why do you think this is so?
3.
Use the Internet or a library to find out more about
bioluminescent sea creatures. Here are some questions to
pursue: What is the most common color of light produced?
What other colors of bioluminescence have been found?
Chapter 6 Connection
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134
Atoms and Radioactivity
Radioactivity is how we describe any process where the
nucleus of an atom emits particles or energy. All radioactive
elements have a halflife. This means that there is a certain
length of time after which half of the radioactive element has
decayed. Radioactive elements have an unstable nucleus,
which decays into an different type of atom with a more
stable nucleus. As it decays, it releases radiation.
Materials:
can of pennies, graph paper
What you will do
Your teacher has given you a
can of pennies to represent the
atoms of a sample of a newly
discovered, radioactive
element. You will use the
pennies to simulate the process
of radioactive decay. Upon
completion of the simulation,
you will construct a graph of
your data.
Shake your can of pennies and spill them out onto a tray or
table.
1.
Remove all pennies that are “heads” up and count them.
2.
Record these as decayed atoms in a table like the one
below.
3.
Put the rest of the pennies back into the can and shake
them again.
4.
Spill them out onto the tray or table, and again, remove
and count the “heads”.
5.
Repeat this process until there are no pennies left.
Applying your knowledge
a.
Graph your data. The sample number will be on the
x

axis and the number of decayed atoms per sample will be
on the
y
axis. Label the axes clearly and provide a title for
the graph.
b.
Describe what your graph looks like.
c.
How many trials did it take for half of your original
number of pennies to decay to “heads up”?
d.
How many trials did it take for all your pennies to decay?
e.
Would it make a difference if you graphed the number of
“tails” up instead?
f.
If you were to put a sticker on one of the pennies and
repeat the activity, could you predict in which trial the
marked penny would decay?
g.
Another student did this activity, and on the third shake
12 pennies decayed. Can you tell how many pennies the
other student started with?
Trial
Sample Number
# of decayed
atoms
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Trial
Sample Number
# of decayed
atoms
Chapter 6 Activity