Mathematical Modeling Using Real Radioactivity Data - Preview

Mathematical Modeling Using Real Radioactivity Data

Subject: Chemistry,Mathematics
Time: 2-3 class periods (45 minutes each)
Level: Grades 9-12 Chemistry, Algebra 2, PreCalculus, Statistics


After being provided with some background knowledge related to radiation and how it is measured with a Geiger counter, students will gather data using an online laboratory (iLab). An iLab is an experimental facility that can be accessed through the Internet, allowing students and educators to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time. After gaining access to the Radioactivity iLab on the internet, students will be guided through the process of gathering Geiger Counter data at various distances from the radioactive material. Once data collection is complete, iLab provides a robust data analysis tool, or data can be downloaded and analyzed by hand, using a spreadsheet, or any other data manipulation software. Students will then use radiation data from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant to model radiation levels as a function of distance from the plant.

Student Outcomes

Learner Objectives:

  • Students will understand that radiation levels are a non-linear function of the distance from the radioactive source

  • Students will develop a function that models the relationship between radiation levels and distance from the radioactive source

  • Students will analyze the fit of the model to the data

  • Students will use a model of radioactivity levels to make predictions


Activities, or alternative activities, that should have been done before



General content knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in this lesson. This should be written as if you are speaking to the students.

Compatible With




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Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Computational Problem Solving Practices
    • Assessing Different Approaches/Solutions to a Problem
  • Data Practices
    • Analyzing Data
    • Creating Data
    • Visualizing Data

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