+64 27 7250 007
Select Page

Modern Physics Radioactive Decay Experiment

Aim:
To simulate the spontaneous and random process of radioactive decay.
Explanation:
In this experiment, drawing pins will represent radioactive atoms. When a drawing pin lands on its side it will be said to be undecayed. When a drawing pin lands pointing upwards it will be said to be decayed.

Method:

  1. You will be provided with a box of drawing pins. Count up how many there are present in the sample.
  2. Throw the drawing pins all together on the bench. Take care to ensure they are all retained.
  3. Count up the number of drawing pins that remain decayed and undecayed and record this result in the table provided.
  4. Remove the decayed drawing pins.
  5. Repeat the experiment again by throwing the remaining undecayed drawing pins onto the bench. Keep repeating until all the drawing pins have decayed. Extend the table if you need to.
Throw NumberNumber of undecayed drawing pinsNumber of decayed drawing pins
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

Analysis:

  1. Plot a graph of the number of undecayed drawing pins versus throw number.
  2. Plot a graph of the number of decayed drawing pins versus throw number.
  3. What is the shape of these curves?
  4. Discuss why this experiment is a good simulation of radioactive decay.

Conclusion:

Write a conclusion which explains why the drawing pins can simulate radioactive decay.