Lesson Plan: Alpha Decay Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to solve nuclear equations involving alpha decay.


Students will be able to

  • recall that an alpha particle contains two protons and two neutrons,
  • recall that an alpha particle has a relative charge of +2,
  • recall by how much the atomic number and mass number of a nucleus change when it undergoes alpha decay,
  • describe alpha decay in words,
  • complete and write nuclear equations involving alpha decay,
  • interpret isotope graphs showing alpha decay.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the composition of atoms,
  • electric charge.


Students will not cover

  • beta decay,
  • gamma decay,
  • cluster decay,
  • proton emission,
  • neutron emission,
  • the half-life,
  • calculations of decay rates,
  • the dangers of radiation,
  • medical or industrial applications of radiation.

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