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Observing Ionizing Radiation Using a Cloud Chamber

$9.95 - $62.40

Product Highlights

  • Observe the contrails formed as ionizing radiation travels through a cooled, supersaturated vapor.
  • High school teacher-led, student-engaged demonstration with enough materials for 5 performances.
  • Carolina Kits 3D®—Labs that use phenomena to support NGSS and 3-dimensional instruction.


Students experience the phenomenon of radioactive decay through observing tracks created in a cloud chamber by ionizing radiation as it passes through a cooled, supersaturated alcohol vapor. They illustrate and explain what is happening in the cloud chamber on a particulate level while learning about radioactive decay and writing nuclear equations to model that decay. Students then connect the phenomenon to real-world applications such as nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and archeological dating.

Time Requirement
Total, 55 minutes. Teacher prep, 15 minutes. Demonstration and discussion, 40 minutes.

Digital Resources
Includes 1-year access to digital resources that support 3-dimensional instruction for NGSS. Digital resources may include a teacher manual and student guide, pre-lab activities and setup videos, phenomenon videos, simulations, and post-lab analysis and assessments.

Performance Expectations

Crosscutting Concepts
Energy and Matter

Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS1.C: Nuclear Processes

Science and Engineering Practices
Developing and Using Models

Learning Objectives

  • Model radioactive decay by writing nuclear equations for alpha, beta, and gamma emissions.
  • Explain how design features of the cloud chamber allow for observing subatomic particles.
  • Illustrate and explain what happens in the cloud chamber on a particulate level.

Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills
Students should be familiar with models of atoms, subatomic particle arrangement, and isotopes; writing balanced nuclear equations; and how charged particles interact with each other in electric and magnetic fields.




Questions & Answers