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Science teachers take part in IoP workshop

The science teachers at Corby Business Academy had a workshop on teaching radioactivity to students using everyday objects, such as balloons, low sodium salt and welding rods to illustrate key concepts in the classroom.

Peter Tiktin, a trainer from the Institute of Physics, and former teacher at Brooke Weston Academy, runs a variety of workshops across our Trust and Teaching Schools and he delivered the after-hours demonstration, using a home-made Geiger counter, dry ice and other tools.

He said: ‘It is a good course to do because everybody wants to know about radioactivity. There was a good illustration of radioactivity where different types had to be put in order along a three-metre rope to illustrate the radiation given off by things, from power stations to bananas. It has been carefully designed so natural background radiation is at the end of three metres, those from medical inspections falls at around 50cm and everything else in just crammed into about a millimetre. It is an easy way to demonstrate that, while you can’t be blasé about radioactivity, it is nowhere near as dangerous as is sometimes portrayed. Once you start to study the subject there is so much to talk about, it is fun to do in the classroom.

‘The teachers were using welding rods which have some thorium in them and I was showing them that household items, such as reduced sodium salt or gas mantles used in camping are also slightly radioactive as well. It is about having different tools to illustrate radioactivity to students.

‘Louise Davison, the second in department is an expert radioactivity supervisor so this was all about showing  colleagues how you can teach it and include extra little things to make it more interesting and relevant.’

The science team with Institute of Physics trainer Peter Tiktin (second from right).