Friday, January 25, 2013


Radioactivity is such an interesting phenomenon. We loved learning more about it. I highly recommend this book, not for reading aloud (it's way too long and on more of a high-school level) but just for a fascinating (and unbiased) overview of the subject. I learned so much from reading this.

Here's a nice little animation to demonstrate half-life and radioactive decay.

This is a really interesting chart showing radiation dosages for various things. The children thought this was the most hilarious sentence in the world:
"Using a cell phone* does not produce ionizing radiation and does not cause cancer. (*Unless it's a bananaphone)"
Bananas, you see, contain potassium and thus give a small dose of radiation (more than a cell phone, evidently). Now the children are obsessed with holding bananas to their ears and saying, "Hello?" They think it is THE FUNNIEST JOKE.

No, actually, I take that back. They think this video contains the funniest joke: when Robert Krampf says, "Does radioactivity turn you into some horrible monster?" and then suddenly appears wearing a big bunny suit. We love The Happy Scientist! This is a good, concise explanation of radioactivity and the cloud chamber looks like a really cool project to try. We didn't attempt it this time because it seemed like it would be so much better with a radioactive source, and we didn't have one. :) But it's really amazing to see the "trails" left by alpha and beta radiation!

Along with naturally occurring radiation, we learned about the uses of radiation in medicine. We had a field trip to the Radiology department of the hospital planned, so in preparation for that we learned how X-ray machines and CT Scans work, and about radiation therapy for cancer. We also really enjoyed this picture gallery of interesting x-ray pictures. The photographer took x-ray photos of unusual things like jet airplanes and football players in uniform. So cool!

Here is a video about CT scanners
And here's one about radiation therapy for prostate cancer

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