Ionising Radiation
Quantum and Nuclear

Thinking about actions to take: Sources of Ionising Radiation

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • dealing with the properties of ionising radiations before dealing with the sources
  • building up a simplified model of the atom, as needed
  • introducing a wide variety of sources, not only nuclear
  • building and discussing models of exponential decay
  • relating emissions to transmutations
  • exploiting a good model of energy, discussing changes in the nuclear store

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • not drawing attention to the vastly different energies of photons with nuclear and atomic origins
  • not emphasising the nuclear origins of the ionising emissions
  • using the term atomic power
  • keeping the different representations of exponential decay separate, rather than relating them
  • avoiding negative energy, when accounting for nuclear transformations

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

Ionising Radiation
is used in analyses relating to Radioactive dating
can be analysed using the quantity Half-Life Decay Constant Activity
features in Medical Physics
Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today