Nuclear Science Techniques


Leader: Dr. Randolph Peterson, The University of the South


This two-hour workshop provides an excellent opportunity for science instructors interested in developing a nuclear lab course together with experienced teachers wishing to review the latest equipment and techniques.  The workshop covers all aspects of the nuclear science laboratory and is divided into two parts for introductory and advanced level instruction.


The first part of the workshop focuses on the use of Geiger-Mueller Counters ideal for high school and beginning college level instruction.  Demonstrations included properties of radiation, radioactive decay, inverse square law, resolving-time correction and several demonstrations using samples collected by the students. The use of computers for data collection and spreadsheets is covered in some detail to aid students in data analysis.


After a short break, the second part moves to advanced spectroscopy experiments on PC and Macintosh computers using multichannel analyzers and scintillation detectors. This session covers system setup, energy calibration, spectral analysis of commercial radioisotopes and multichannel scaling for counting statistics and half-life experiments. Environmental samples are be collected during the workshop and analyzed for radioactive content. Samples of commonly available materials containing radioactivity are analyzed and discussed. Data analysis using spreadsheets and curve fitting with peak deconvolution using mathematical software is included as part of the demonstration.


Written handouts covering each demonstration are included along with information on the safe handling, storage and disposal of license exempt radioisotopes used in the experiments.  Participants are invited to attend either one or both sessions, which are approximately one hour duration each.