Radiation: A Key Topic in Making Use of Energy

  • Explore the concept of radiation: It is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles.
  • Identify the three types of radiation: alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays.
  • Reflect upon the properties of alpha particles: each consists of two protons and two neutrons, they are positively charged, have a strong ionising power, and cannot penetrate far into materials.
  • Understand the attributes of beta particles: they are fast moving, negatively charged, have a medium ionising power, can penetrate more deeply than alpha particles, but are stopped by a thin sheet of aluminium or plastic.
  • Comprehend the characteristics of gamma rays: they are high energy photons, have a weak ionising power, and are able to penetrate deeply into materials, requiring thick lead or concrete to stop them.
  • Explore radiation sources: natural ones include stuff like radon gas, cosmic rays, and uranium in the Earth, while artificial sources include nuclear power, medical treatments, and certain consumer products.
  • Introduce the concept of half-life: this is the time taken for half of the radioactive atoms in a sample to decay.
  • Understand that exposure to ionising radiation can cause harm to living organisms by damaging cells and DNA.
  • Comprehend the uses of radiation: from treating cancer and sterilising medical equipment, to gauging thickness of materials and determining the age of fossils.
  • Understand that photons are not just a radiation, but carry electromagnetic waves. These waves are responsible for light, microwaves, X-rays, and radio waves.
  • Lay emphasis on safety measures and precautions necessary when working with radiation sources, such as using shielding and detectors, and following regulations about handling, storage, and disposal of these materials.