Cloud chamber: radioactivity in a cosmic setting

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Cloud chambers are boxes specially made to detect charged particles and radiation. In this activity, a cloud chamber, made from a plastic fish tank or terrarium, is used to observe alpha and beta particles.  The suggested source used in the cloud chamber is a thoriated welding rod.  Dry ice is used to cool the chamber to create a supersaturated layer of ethanol.  Discussion questions are provided for the practical, with answers in the teacher guide, and a worksheet looking at decay series.  Students should already have been introduced to the concept of radioactive decay and the differences between alpha and beta radiation.

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