Its a bit difficult not to mention dangerous to use strong radiation sources in the classroom and give the students real experience to radioactive decay. Here's a quick way to give students an opportunity to design and complete an investigation about the distance between a radiation source and the intensity of radiation.

The objective of the lesson is for students to learn about the relationship between distance and intensity of radiation, and also to consider the many sources of radiation in our environment and their effect on our health. Also, students will practice clearly communicating scientific results in the form of a lab report.

Students will perform some background research, and then remotely operate the equipment at the radiation lab at the University of Queensland in Australia to test their hypothesis. All of this is available for free for all high school students. Its a great resource!

Step 1: Background Research

This activity uses ionizing radiation and also discusses non-ionizing radiation so before beginning the experiment I ask students to research the difference between the two types of radiation and to identify several sources of each in our society. During the course of this research students also encounter many of the vocabulary terms that are used in this activity.

Step 2: Designing and Completing the Experiment

To participate in this experiment, the teacher can sign up to join the open experiment group first (from the same website), then student go to:


The site uses flash player for several portions of the investigation, so make sure its updates on your classroom computers.

At this screen they have the choice of several different versions of the experiment depending on what they are studying including physics, ap physics, biology, chemistry, or mathematics. Each version of the experiment changes the context that is provided for the students. I included some screen shots of the different variations that are available for high school students.

The activity starts with a pre-lab, leads the students through the design of their investigation, has the students send their remote instructions to the lab, shows the students the execution of their instructions on a webcam, leads them through data analysis, and guides them in the preparation of their lab report. The authors of the activities do a great job with questioning the students during the process and relating the content to the scenario set up in the lesson.

Step 3: Simulation and Web Cam Screens

Students have the option of viewing either a computer simulation of the equipment or a live web cam of the equipment as they work through the activity. Depending on the number of people requesting control of the equipment, the student's data can move quickly to the equipment and get data returned within a few minutes, or it may take a few hours for data to be returned.

All of the data is stored within a student account, so all students have to do to view their data after it has been submitted to the equipment and recorded is log back into their account with ilab.

About This Instructable



Bio: I'm a physics and chemistry teacher at a public school in Maryland and active in my local science teacher's association. I love building ... More »
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