Students may think that a sample of radioactive material would have half its original mass or volume after one half-life
Resources to Address This
In many decay models the ‘decaying’ atoms are removed by some process. Use this discussion to compare the models to real behaviour, identifying that the nucleus changes but does not disappear.View Resource
Discuss the changes in a nucleus, rather than it disappearing during decay, with this conversation outline.View Resource
Emphasise that a nucleus will change, rather than disappearing during decay by considering conservation of properties such as charge as discussed here.View Resource
The students can discuss the nature of nuclear decay by looking at the changes to radioactive atoms, showing that much of the mass of the nucleus remains after a decay.View Resource
- Prather, E., () Student' Beliefs about the role of atoms in radioactive decay and half-life, Journal of Geoscience Education, 53 (4) 345-354.