Radiation – a senior science unit

Radiation is a combined senior sciences unit aimed at 13+ year olds. It doesn’t assume any prior knowledge, however an understanding of basic atomic structure is recommended. The unit is partly written by a team of science journalists from Cosmos Magazine in Australia and partly by Nathalie Thomas.

This science unit is fully completed online via a computer, laptop or tablet where students submit their answers and project work and it will get marked, usually overnight.
This science unit contains an introduction, four lessons, four quizzes, an experiment using a remotely controlled lab, two activities,a career part to connect science with society and a final test.

The fee to participate in this online science unit is $45 per student, which includes marking of the lessons, quizzes, activities, projects and final test. Access is during the first 5 weeks of term 2, 2016, from 25 July until 26 August.


Unless astronauts can be protected from exposure to dangerous levels of radiation it might mean there will only ever be one way tickets to Mars.

In this unit you will investigate the following:

What is radiation?
What are radio isotopes?
What is half life?
When is radiation dangerous?
If radiation causes cancer how can it be used to treat cancer?
Let’s see if a new protective shield will deflect the cosmic attacks.
Lesson structure:

  • Introduction stimulates interest with a recent Cosmos Magazine article about the design of a Space Radiation Superconductive Shield – a giant magnetic shield designed to wrap around spacecraft and deflect cosmic rays much like the Earth’s magnetic field protects the planet.
  • Lesson 1 explains what radiation is and covers both waves and particle radiation (physics).
  • Lesson 2 covers radioactivity and radio isotopes (chemistry). During the experiment students measure the radiation from real radioactive materials located at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Students control the equipment remotely.
  • Lesson 3 introduces half life and for the activity students use M&M lollies to simulate decay of a radioactive material.
  • Lesson 4 takes a look at how radiation affects us as humans (biology) and explains the difference between exposure and contamination. The activity takes a closer look at the Mars One project which involves setting up contained settlements for humans on Mars.
  • Science and society profiles a nuclear medicine physician. As a societal issue we consider what the benefits of nuclear science research are for humanity.