Welcome to practical physicsPracticle physics - practical activities designed for use in the classroom with 11 to 19 year olds

Ionising radiations and their properties

Using sealed sources, you can demonstrate most of the properties of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The experiments in this collection allow students to see their ranges, penetrating powers and, in the case of beta radiation, how it is deflected in a magnetic field. They can link these properties to the nature of each type of radiation, and start to form a picture of why these types of radiation behave in the way they do.

The first experiment introduces the idea that radioactive atoms give out three distinct types of radiation, known as alpha, beta and gamma. The next four experiments allow you to investigate their properties in more detail. Each of these experiments is built around one type of radiation (and all its properties). However, you could equally choose to reshuffle these experiments and focus on each property in turn – i.e. look at the range in air for all three radiations and then move on to penetrating power.  


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