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What is Matter?

Resources, Classroom Activities,

Assessment Ideas, IT Applications and Websites

Material from the Networking meeting and Recent Physics Teachers Conferences

Some of the participants contributed worksheets, assessment tasks and prac suggestions. These have been included below. Many thanks to Jacqueline Wozniak, Tina Mercuri and Lach Myers.

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Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Word

Resources for What is Matter?

85.5 kB

This list of resources was generated at the networking meeting held in September 2015. It covered possible ways of sequencing the cintent in this Area of Study, unpacking the dot points and assessment strategies.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Teaching 'What is Matter?

912 kB

This is a powerpoint on i) the new concepts in this Area of Study ii) resources and iii) assessment tasks. It is prepared by Dan O'Keeffe, Vicphysics Teachers' Network for the 2016 Physics Teachers' Conference.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Radioactivity

1.67 MB

Powerpoint by Dr David Hoxley and Bob Aikenhead of Latrobe University

Microsoft Word

Tritium: The Back Story

45.6 kB

A 3 page Word document about the properties, risks and uses of Tritium. The document was written following a sensationalised article that appeared in the Age in February, 2017.

Resources

Text Resources

  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation 1992, A Nuclear Source: A Resource Kit for Teachers, ANSTO, Sydney, NSW. See website below for other resources.
  • Caro, McDonell & Spicer 1980, Modern Physics, 3rd edn, Edward Arnold, London.
  • Three UK Science Series: SATIS (Science and Technology in Society), Science in Society Readers and SISCON (Science in a Social Context) each produced an extensive range of material across the sciences including radioactivity, nuclear physics and cosmology. These resources are now available on line from the UK's National STEM Centre. Further details about the three resources and links is available on this website at here

Audiovisual Resources

It is recommended that teachers should view any video before purchase.

  • Marcom Projects: Nuclear physics, Radioisotopes at Work
  • ABC: Catalyst: Radioactivity, Cosmology, CERN
  • ANSTO: See website below

Podcasts from University of Melbourne. See list of relevant episodes below.

  • Episode 143: Dr Roger Rassool, 'Radiation for the rest of us: The alpha, beta and gamma of atomic interaction' Dr Rassool discusses the basic physics behind the radioactivity produced -- and sometimes leaked -- in the production of nuclear power. With science host Dr Shane Huntington. (30 min)
  • Episode 144: Assoc Prof Timan Ruff on 'Waiter, there's caesium in my soup: Radioactive contamination and its health implications'. (30 min)
  • Episode 159: Lawrence M. Krauss: 'Before and after the Universe' Professor Krauss discusses how investigating dark matter can shed light on the geometry of our universe, and what this means for our understanding of its origins and demise. (34 min)
  • Episode 131: What seems to be the antimatter?: Where experimental particle physics meets cloud computing'. Professor Martin Sevior and software engineer Tom Highfield explain how commercial cloud computing can be enlisted in the service of answering questions about the origins of the universe. (25 min)
  • Episode 240: Mass nebulous: Our evolving understanding of dark matter'. Cosmologist Dr Katherine Mack delves into the 'mysteries of dark matter, examining the evidence and scrutinizing current explanations of the phenomenon. (29 min)
  • Episode 45: '21st Century Cosmology'. Prof Rachel Webster takes us into the future of cosmology in a quest to discover our universe's past. (22 min)

Podcasts from BBC with Melvyn Bragg. See list of relevant episodes on aspects of Science below. They are 45 minutes.

The Neutrino The Age of the Universe The Curie Family Dark Matter The Photon Radiation The Cool Universe
Dark Energy Rutherford Higgs Boson Black Holes Cosmic Rays Nuclear Physics

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Classroom Activities

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Filename

Filesize

Generic

Worksheet for Radioactive Decay of Ba 137

52 kB

Experiment to determine the half-life of Barium 137 using a kit that can be obtained from Cider House ICT. It is a safe demonstration that involves the class. A Geiger counter is required and it is useful to have a clock with a second hand that all can see. You can usually get one student to call out the count each minute and students can be completing the columns in the table and plotting the graph during the demonstration. The kit can be purchased from Cider House ICT. The cost is approximately $400AUD (schools may wish to share the purchase). One kit will last for a great many years. Prepared by Paul Cuthbert, Kew High School

Microsoft Word

Radioactivity - Dice Prac

29.7 kB

This is a prac that simulates radioactive decay using either dice or wooden blocks. It has an option to use Excel to analyse the data.

Microsoft Word

Proactinium Prac

17.4 kB

A prac that uses a Protactinium (Pa) source. Details on how to make a Pa source can be found in the prac book "Guide to Year 11 Physics" by Tait and Boydell. Pa has a short life so that the count rate dies down to background in about five minutes. The prac is down as a class prac with two students reading and supplying data to the rest of the class. One student counts down the clock for each 20 second interval, the other student reads the geiger counter and calls out the progressive total count.

Microsoft Word

Practical activities for Radioactivity

44.5 kB

Practical activities for radioactivity, student sheet and teaching notes. Geiger counter, cloud chamber, low activity sources, dice simulation of radioactive decay.

Practical Activities

Cloud Chamber Designs

Ruhmkoff Coil and ionising radiation

UK schools have an item of equipment to detect ionising radiation from radioactive sources, called a spark counter', see link below. It is not exactly a counter, it consists of 'a fine metal gauze mounted about a millimetre away from a thin wire. A (high) voltage is applied between the two so that sparking takes place between them'. For the Vicphysics Practical Activities Workshops, the idea occurred of bringing an alpha source close to the pointed electrodes of a Ruhmkorff coil. However this did not work. Replacing one of the two pointed electrodes with the metal disc electrode made all the difference, with sparks readily jumping from the point to the disc. Many thanks to Paul Cuthbert, University High School for getting it to work.

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Assessment Ideas

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Generic

Media response assessment task on History of the Atom

34.3 kB

A two page article on Rutherfors and also on the discovery of quarks along with three fill in pages of questions, seven in total.

Generic

Solutions to Media response assessment task on History of the Atom

24.5 kB

Text

Radiation Assessment Task

10.2 kB

Radioisotope Poster Presentation - involving student research and presentation.

Microsoft Word

Nuclear Presentation

22 kB

Handout outlining an assessment task requiring students to prepare a presentation in poster or PowerPoint format on an aspect of nuclear energy.

Microsoft Word

Nuclear Presentation Assessment

25.6 kB

Assessment criteria sheet for the presentation on an aspect of nuclear energy.

Text

Radiation Assessment Task

52.7 kB

Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy Presentation (This is a research task using written references and the Internet. Students are to produce a newspaper report, a PowerPoint presentation or a web page. Topic cards are selected at random so that all students research a different topic. Swapping of cards is fine with me, as is negotiating another topic.)

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IT Applications

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Radioactive decay Simulation

338 kB

An Excel worksheet that simulates radioactive half life using random numbers, like rolling dice. In cell 2 you enter the number of sides you want on the dice (any whole number bigger than 2). The worksheet then rolls 1000 dice, counts the number of 2's, and then deducts them from the 1000 dice. This continues for 50 rolls of the dice. Pressing shift+F9 will recalculate the worksheet. Included is a graph of Dice remaining vs roll number. If you do this for a 3, 6, 9, and 12 sided dice it shows how the half life changes with the probability of getting a 2. Alternatively since the values are in columns you can copy and paste them into a graphing program. We use Autograph. It is heaps better than Excel and you can zoom in to show the halflife value in detail. You can also do a 6th order line of best fit through the data points. I will include some screenshots showing this. Contributed by Brendon Beard.

Useful Websites

Nuclear Physics

Particle Physics

Cosmology

Applets

Explaining the Higgs Boson

Useful videos and websites

Useful documents

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