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Exploring Student Understanding of Atoms and Radiation with the Atom Builder Simulator Documents

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Exploring Student Understanding of Atoms and Radiation with the Atom Builder Simulator 

written by Andy Johnson and Anna Hafele

Learning about radiation requires understanding the general structure of atoms, but many college physics students do not have such understandings. In our efforts to develop inquiry based materials on radiation, we have accumulated additional evidence showing that certain students do indeed have substantial difficulties understanding the basic structure and properties of atoms, and that these difficulties impair their understandings of the simplest radiation processes--emission and ionization. This paper reports on our investigations of student difficulties in understanding basic properties of atoms and ionization and radioactivity. We also describe results from a class using a new pedagogical simulator--the Atom Builder--and provide evidence for marked improvement in student understanding.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified May 8, 2013

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