Learn about the different types of radiation while deciding whether exposure to radiation poses a greater risk or benefit to humans.
When we hear the word radiation all kinds of questions come to mind: What is radiation exactly? Is it dangerous or is it helpful?
In this activity, students develop a deeper understanding of different types and forms of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation by making informed decisions about the risks and benefits of exposure to radiation.
1. Organize your students into pairs and begin the activity by asking them to suggest where they might encounter radiation. Encourage pairs to list as many sources as possible, then share their ideas with the class.
2. After groups have shared their ideas, ask whether radiation is a greater risk or benefit to people. Invite groups to do some initial thinking, then to share their ideas with the class. At this point in the activity, welcome all student suggestions. As students share, use their ideas to co-develop or present the criteria for deciding:
You may wish to record and post the criteria for use later in this activity.
3. Help your students practice using the criteria to decide whether radiation is a greater risk or benefit. Invite groups to revisit their initial ideas about radiation, this time using the criteria to guide their thinking. Encourage groups to share their thinking with the class.
4. Once students have shared their ideas, briefly explain that in this activity they will use the criteria and details about various types of radiation to decide if radiation is a greater risk or benefit to people.
5. Give each student a copy of "Analyzing the risks and benefits of radiation" worksheet. Prompt students to mark their initial decision about the risks and benefits of radiation on the scale. Encourage students to include at least one reason to support their initial decision.
6. Provide each group with a copy of the "Types of radiation" handout. Prompt each group to note any details from the handout that could be used to prove that exposure to radiation is risky or beneficial.
7. Invite groups to use these details to decide whether exposure to radiation is risky or beneficial. As groups share their decisions, remind them to use the criteria to make and explain their decisions.
8. Encourage individual students to now revisit their initial decision about the risks and benefits of exposure to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Prompt students to mark their new decision on the scale using a different colour, and note the evidence that guided their thinking.
9. Conclude the activity by inviting your students to share their thinking. Guide a discussion that explores how the different types of radiation present different risks and benefits.
When groups read about the different types of radiation, consider assigning a selection of the types to individual groups. Groups could then present their ratings to the class, and individual students could use this information to supplement their own ratings.
The term radiation is a very broad term for energy in the form of waves or particles travelling until they are absorbed by matter. In order to better understand radiation, it can be described in two categories: ionizing and non-ionizing.
Assess your students’ ability to:
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