the introductory lesson to Chernobyl, students will
explore three different isotopes that were released
into the atmosphere and contaminated numerous parts
of Europe. In a written essay students attempt to sympathize
with those affected by these radioactive contaminates.
This lesson can be done alongside the math lessons
to provide students with a fuller picture.
Students will be able to:
1. Describe an isotope and radioactive isotope in a written
2. Describe the health effects of the following:
3. Describe how a specific country or region was
affected by radioactive contamination in a written
National Science Education Standard
CONTENT STANDARD C:
Energy sources and Use
Nuclear reactions release energy without the combustion products of burning fuels, but the radioactivity of fuels and by-products poses other risks, which may last for thousands of years.
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Describe the interactions between human populations, natural hazards, and the environment.
The most hazardous isotopes released in the Chernobyl
incident were Cs-137, I-131, and Sr-90.
These isotopes have half-lives sufficiently
long to allow them to migrate into the
human body or, in the case of Iodine, have
the tendency to accumulate in the thyroid
The plume from the burning graphite initially
traveled in a northwest direction toward Sweden,
Finland and Eastern Europe, exposing the public
to levels up to 100 times the normal background
radiation. A very serious concern involves the
contamination of grain and dairy products from
fallout. This contamination may cause permanent
internal contamination. Both Sr-90 and I-131
migrate to vital organs in the body where they
are impossible to remove, serving as a constant
source of radiation and a cause of cancer or
Related and Resource Websites
CDC Radioactive Isotopes http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/isotopes
Global Radiation Patterns http://users.owt.com/smsrpm/Chernobyl/glbrad.html
Chernobyl 1 PULSE Lesson Plan http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/math/chernobyl1.html
PULSE Resource Page on Nuclear Radiation http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/chemicals/students.htm