Physics KS3 / GCSE: Demonstrating radiation detectors

Kevin Fong explains that when astronauts leave Earth, they leave behind the protection that our atmosphere offers from many types of radiation.

Aboard the International Space Station, UK astronaut Tim Peake monitors his radiation exposure using a TimePix detector.

Using a student from the audience to help, Kevin shows that a Geiger-Muller tube can be used to detect ionising radiation.

A laboratory notebook used by the scientist who developed medical X-ray imaging technology is found to be highly radioactive.

But the detectors used by astronauts can detect not just the number of particles that hit them, but also the types of ionising particle that hit them, and Kevin demonstrates this on screen.

This clip is from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2015.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

After watching the clip, ask students to research the three types of ionising radiation and how they can be stopped.

Key Stage 4

Before watching the clip, ask students to recall the three types of ionising radiation and what they already know about them.

What are the hazards to astronauts aboard the ISS from ionising radiation?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Physics.

This topic appears at KS3 or in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

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Why tardigrades can survive in orbit
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