Updated Curriculum: Learn Nuclear Science With Marbles

Learn Nuclear Science With Marbles is a curriculum for grades 7-12 science teachers that uses a marble model nucleus* to provide an interactive learning experience.  The Marble Nuclei Project is co-sponsored by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA) and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). This curriculum was highlighted in The Physics Teacher (Feb 18 2010).

This curriculum was recently updated to include:

      • NEW activities and a heavily-expanded fragmentation box section
      • NEW lesson sections with advanced topics that had been requested by teachers
      • Improved instructions for building your own fragmentation boxes
      • Accompanying Powerpoint presentation (see Guided Lesson)

*According to the teacher’s guide for these lessons, you will need colored magnetic marbles (www.cynmar.com): 12 yellow, 12 green, 1 blue, 1 pink and two 5/8’’ neodymium sphere magnets (www.kjmagnetics.com).

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1 Response to “Updated Curriculum: Learn Nuclear Science With Marbles”


  1. 1 Don Ward June 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    I got the marble nuclei lab kits earlier this week and have had a chance to use them the last two days. During this time of the year, we have very strange class periods because of mandatory EOC
    (End-of-Course) testing. Yesterday, I had one of my Honors Chem
    classes ALL DAY, and today I had the other one. I used the marble
    nuclei sets and was impressed with the results. To get ready for the lab, all I did was make 10 copies of the student notes section (13 pages) and of the two nuclide charts. The students are honors students, so I just gave them the handouts and told them to let me know when there was something they don’t understand. (I don’t invite them to just ask questions because they will ask questions about what to do rather than reading the lab. I make them show me the words/sentence in the lab they don’t understand.) Students were able to read the lab, do the activities and answer the questions without much input from me. Before the lab, I just made sure students knew how to use the two nuclide charts. All four parts of the lab took less than two hours. Another pleasant surprise was that the “five” sets I bought contained 10 magnets and sets of marbles, so 10 groups could be accommodated with occasional sharing of beta and positron decay particles (pink and blue marbles). I highly recommend this set for chemistry classes. The neodynium magnets are a bonus – students were impressed with the strength of the magnets! (Just be sure to warn them that two of them coming together can raise a blood blister if you’re not careful with them.)


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