Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Activities for Radiation: risks and uses

Here are activities to help with the teaching of this topic.

What risks do you take?

This activity introduces students to balancing risk, and the different ways people think about risks in their everyday lives. It asks them to consider risks they take in their own lives. Then they act out a scripted conversation in a student bar to stimulate further discussion about the choices people make.
Teacher notes and student sheets (245 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (65 KB)

Lss 50 PixLSS: Reading and sharing

Students work in pairs to study the topic of radiation from two very different points of view. They then share their viewpoints and make a summary of key concepts in their preferred styles.
Teacher notes and student sheets (749 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (102 KB)

Risk your personal choices

This is another short introductory activity on risk in which students are asked to consider their own risk choices and then to reflect in more detail on the factors that affect their risk decisions.
Teacher notes and student sheets (178 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (60 KB)

Mobile phone use and the precautionary principle

In this activity students will plan a questionnaire about mobile phone use. They will aim to discover whether current government advice has affected phone use amongst their family and friends. It provides an introduction to the precautionary principle.
Teacher notes and student sheets (240 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (65 KB)

Talking risk

Media reports of research often use the term ‘risk’ indiscriminately. In this activity students will look at a 2007 newspaper report of research investigating the link between long-term mobile phone use and brain tumours. They will discuss and answer questions on the difference between relative and absolute risk.
Teacher notes and student sheets (234 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (48 KB)

Mobile phones and cancer?

Students examine data from an extensive research project on the risks from mobile phones and consider the research design and what the results show. They discuss whether the results prove the negative “Mobile phones do not cause cancer”.
Teacher notes and student sheets (181 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (104 KB)

Edible atoms

This is a short, fun activity which will help students to recall the structure of the atom that they learnt about in GCSE. They will model atoms using a paper plate and 3 different sorts of sweets. At the end, when they have correctly demonstrated their understanding of atoms and isotopes, you may wish to let them eat their model!
Teacher notes and student sheets (150 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (26 KB)

Radioactivity Units
This is a short activity to explain the differences between the units commonly used for measuring radioactivity, becquerels, grays and sieverts.
Teacher notes and student sheets (181 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (120 KB)

Radioactive dice

Students often find understanding half-life difficult. This activity is designed to help them visualise the random nature of radioactive decay, and provides a way of producing a half-life graph from which calculations can be made. The activity uses pennies and dice to represent radioactive isotopes with different half-lives.
Teacher notes and student sheets (163 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (46 KB)

Looking your age?

This comprehension activity will help students to place their study of radioactive decay into a real-life context.
Teacher notes and student sheets (243 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (53 KB)

Estimating your radiation dose

This activity should help students develop a clearer understanding of the different sources of radiation to which they are exposed and an appreciation of their relative magnitude. They use information on radon, nuclear power installations, flying and other sources to estimate their own annual dose.
Teacher notes and student sheets (748 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (182 KB)

Uses of radioactivity

This activity encourages students to use some important concepts In the science of radioactivity to choose which isotope is best suited for different applications in medicine and the environment.
Teacher notes and student sheets (214 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (159 KB)

Lss 50 PixLSS: Writing a summary

In this activity, students summarise information from three different sources on the topic ‘Is the use of radiation in medicine justified?’.
Teacher notes and student sheets (747 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (102 KB)
Catalyst article on Medical Imaging (698 KB)
Catalyst article on Radioactivity in medicine (0.9 MB)

Managing radiation doses

This activity encourages students to consider the principles of radiation protection and how they might apply in the nuclear industry and in medicine. They discuss and answer a set of questions based on exposure data.
Teacher notes and student sheets (208 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (62 KB)

Radioactive pigeons

This activity is based on two reports of an unexpected source of contamination at Sellafield. Students have to answer questions to test their understanding of radioactivity. They then compare the style and content of the two reports and write a newspaper article on the issue.
Teacher notes and student sheets (251 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (106 KB)

Making decisions about using radiation

This is an exam style activity to help students draw together what they have learnt about radiation and risk, and to use their knowledge to help them make decisions about radiation.
Teacher notes and student sheets (178 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (74 KB)

Lss 50 PixLSS: Using visuals krypton factor style

Imagine a world with no visuals. How much time do we waste by using words instead of pictures? In this activity students take turns to describe a visual about radiation. Can their peers recreate the same visual just by listening to the description?
Teacher notes and student sheets (0.9 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (230 KB)
Powerpoint presentation (747 KB)

Chernobyl - exam style question

This activity is similar to Unit 1 exam questions. It tests science explanations on radioactivity and how science works ideas on data and on causal links, particularly the problems associated with epidemiology where the increase in risk is small and spread over a long time scale.
Teacher notes and student sheets (530 KB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (60 KB)