Recommended for grades 9–12.
Alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays can pass through matter, but can also be absorbed or scattered in varying degrees depending on the material and on the type and energy of the radiation. Medical X-ray images are possible because bones absorb X-rays more so than do soft tissues. Strongly radioactive sources are often stored in heavy lead boxes to shield the local environment from the radiation.
Some materials absorb beta rays. A sheet of common cardboard will absorb some of the betas, but will allow most to pass through. You can measure this absorption by fixing a beta source and a radiation monitor so their positions do not change, and then inserting layers of cardboard between them.
In this experiment, you will
- Develop a model for the absorption of beta radiation by matter.
- Use a radiation counter to study how the radiation emitted by a beta source is absorbed by cardboard.
- Test the model against experimental data to determine its validity.
Sensors and Equipment
This experiment requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):
You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?
Download Experiment Preview
The student-version preview includes:
- Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
- List of materials and equipment
Note: The experiment preview of the computer edition does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. Instructions for Logger Pro and other software (such as LabQuest App or TI handheld software, where available) are on the CD that accompanies the book. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book before performing experiments.
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