Cloud chamber – radioactivity in a cosmic setting

Mar 10, 2021 | Unkategorisiert

Using this resource, students will work together to build a cloud chamber, a special box designed to detect charged particles and radiation. They will analyse the alpha and beta radioactive decay of thorium-232 and look for charged particles arriving on Earth from space. In a cloud chamber, charged particles leave condensation trails as they pass through. Trails are of different lengths, thicknesses, and straightness, depending on which particle produced them. Students will learn to identify the initial particle based on how a trail looks. This demonstration will assist students in their understanding of radioactive decay by providing a real physical demonstration. It will also look at the real-life positive and negative effects of radiation on spacecraft.

Students will learn

  • Fundamental particles
  • Particle interactions
  • Atomic number, mass number
  • Radiation and radioactive decay
  • Radioactive decay as a power source for spacecraft
  • The negative effects of ionising radiation on electronics
  • Interactions between charged particles and magnetic fields
  • Cosmic rays including their interactions with the atmosphere

Students will improve

  • General experimental skills including using equipment appropriately and making and recording observations.
  • The communication and discussion of results, through asking relevant questions to expand understanding and knowledge of a subject.
  • Their application of knowledge gained through experimental observations to solve theoretical problems.
Cloud chamber, Radioactivity in a cosmic setting – classroom demonstration video, VP03.