Finding demos related to nuclear chemistry that are interesting, relevant, and manageable is challenging. Melanie Harvey is both a chemistry professor and a ceramic artist. Using Fiestaware to talk about the historical use of radioisotopes is one of her favorite demonstrations.
The classic classroom or lab activity using coin flips to illustrate the first order kinetics of radioactive decay is connected to the tragedy of radiation exposure of workers at facilities using radium-containing luminescent paint. Some of the chemistry related to the contamination of these “radium girls” is explored, with connections being made to the Principles of Green Chemistry and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
After receiving positive feedback from Peter Mahaffy, the IUPAC project co-chair of Isotopes Matter, I decided to add an additional component to the original isotope assignment I posted. The second component of the assignment focuses on the applications of both radioactive and stable isotopes using the interactive IUPAC periodic table.
During my 2nd week into summer “vacation” I met with nine other secondary science teachers from my district. We set forth on a week-long curriculum design journey that involved the new Michigan Science Standards (basically NGSS).