Students may think that a sample of radioactive material would have half its original mass or volume after one half-life

Quantum and Nuclear

Misconception RESEARCH REVIEW

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.

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  • Discuss the changes in a nucleus, rather than it disappearing during decay, with this conversation outline.

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  • Emphasise that a nucleus will change, rather than disappearing during decay by considering conservation of properties such as charge as discussed here.

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  • 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.

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References

  • Prather, E., () Student' Beliefs about the role of atoms in radioactive decay and half-life, Journal of Geoscience Education, 53 (4) 345-354.

    DOI: 10.5408/1089-9995-53.4.345

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