Predicting Radon levels in homes based on geology
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 8, 2014
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Correlating that data to geologic bedrock maps and/or glacial deposit maps.
Other skills goals for this activity
Students do work in groups.
Description and Teaching Materials
1. During the first of the two lab periods on mineral and hand sample identification, we will discuss as a group what elements are in the minerals and which associated elements produce Radon. We will use the departmental Geiger counter to test our ideas. Then students will be asked to do some library (web) research on what minerals are associated with Radon.
2. During the second of the two lab periods on mineral and hand sample identification, we will discuss as a group the results of their research.
3. During the first of the two lab periods on rock and hand sample identification, we will discuss as a group which minerals are in which rocks and thus which rocks we expect to be radioactive. We will use the departmental Geiger counter to test our ideas. Then students will be asked to do some library (web) research on what rocks are associated with Radon.
4. During the second of the two lab periods on rocks and hand sample identification, we will discuss as a group the results of their research, and test more rocks with the Geiger counter.
5. On the field trip the following week, these ideas will be discussed and bedrock and glacial deposits will be observed. Information on soil radon values in different types of glacial deposits will be discussed.
6. Students will be split into 2 groups. Students in one group will then be asked to hypothesize, using a bedrock geologic map of NYS, which areas of NYS will have high radon levels. Students in the second group will then be asked to hypothesize, using a glacial deposits map, which areas of NYS will have high radon levels. This will be done outside of class as an assignment to be completed within two weeks.
7. After two weeks, one lab period will be devoted to looking up NYS Health Department data on radon measurements in homes by county. Students will compare the data to their predictions for different counties. We will discuss what factors we did not take into account that might influence the results.
8. Students will write up a report on their findings.
9. Any interested students will be encouraged to present a poster at the Spring Semester "Transformations", a day of research presentations at SUNY Cortland
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1986, A citizen's guide to radon: Office of Air and Radiation, OPA-86-004, 14 p.