In this lesson students learn about how the nuclei of atoms can change in fission and fusion reactions.
To begin the unit I ask students to, "Think about nuclear fusion and fission. What do you think about in regards to these two terms?"
I get some responses in terms of the roots of the words. Some students respond with "bringing together because you are fusing". Another response is "take apart because of a fissure".
I get some responses in terms of nuclear reactions in bombs with answers like, "aren't they used in nuclear bombs?"
Some students also remember the reading we did at the beginning of the unit (Unit 9 Big Quiz and Introduction to Nuclear Chemistry) and mention the fact that fusion is what happens in the sun. If students don't bring this up then I probe them by saying, "did you read about either of these in the reading you did about stars at the beginning of the unit?" after this I will get responses related to fusion in stars.
In this section of the lesson I have students model what they have learned about nuclear fusion by doing a quick activity and then several practice questions.
The activity is found on slides 10 and 11 of the PowerPoint and students record their responses on the back side of their graphic organizer. The goal of the activity is for students to visualize what happens to atoms during a fusion reaction. The start with hydrogen atoms (1 marshmallow) and end up with carbon (6 marshmallows). Each time they make a fusion reaction they release energy by using a pipe cleaner piece. This is a very basic activity, but I feel that its a way to get students moving and does help them to remember the reaction.
For the second part of this section I have students perform some practice questions to give them a chance to review what we learned in the notes. The practice questions are on slides 12 and 13 of the PowerPoint and students record their responses on the the bottom of the second page of their notes graphic organizer.
As a second way to reinforce what students have learned in this lesson as well as the rest of the nuclear chemistry unit I have them do several simulations on the PhET website. I have them go up to the classroom computers with their groups and fill in this phet nuclear activities paper as they do the simulations.
As students complete their PhET activity I have them begin to work on their unit10 review worksheet. I let them know that it is not due until the exam, but that they should use this extra class time as well as time at home to complete the paper.
I stamp the paper for completion on the day of the exam and then review it using the answer key.
This is one example of a student's completed paper.
Some of the common confusions among students include: