Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Radioactive List Group Label

Subject Area



9, 10, 11, 12


During this activity, the students will collaborate in groups of 4 to complete a List-Group-Label as a before strategy for a lesson on radioactivity to activate and assess students' prior knowledge.  The students will collaborate on a shared Google document to create a brainstorm of all the words and concepts they know that are associated with the word, radioactive. Then, they will group the words into categories and ultimately label each group of terms. This activity will give the teacher insight into student's thoughts and possible misconceptions about radiation before a lesson on radioactivity. 

This activity was created as a result of the GAP Resource Summit.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Physical Science


    Develop models to illustrate the concept of half-life for radioactive decay.

    Unpacked Content



    • Atom
    • Isotopes
    • Protons
    • Neutrons
    • Electrons
    • Radioactivity
    • Half-life
    • Radioactive decay
    • Alpha particles
    • Beta particles
    • Positrons
    • Gamma
    • Fission
    • Fusion
    • Kinetic energy
    • Electromagnetic radiation
    • Emission
    • Nuclear power
    • Hydroelectric power
    • Solar power
    • Wind power
    • Penetrability
    • Fossil fuel combustion
    • Decay series


    Students know:
    • The atom is made of protons, neutrons, electrons.
    • The types of radioactive decay include alpha, beta, and gamma.


    Students are able to:
    • Exemplify the radioactive decay of unstable nuclei using the concept of half-life.
    • Perform simple half-life calculations based on an isotope's half-life value, time of decay, and/or amount of substance.
    • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
    • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
    • Engage in argument from evidence.
    • Communicate information.


    Students understand that:
    • Nuclear processes, including fusion, fission, and radioactive decays of unstable nuclei, involve release or absorption of energy.
    • Half-life can be used to date the age of organic objects.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models; Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Systems and System Models; Energy and Matter


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    To activate and assess prior knowledge, the students will collaboratively complete a list, group, label activity by brainstorming terms, grouping terms, and labeling terms that are associated with radioactive

    Activity Details

    The teacher will present or write the word RADIOACTIVE. Once students have entered the room, the teacher will divide students into groups of 2 to 4 students. The teacher will explain that one student will create a Google document and share it with the other students in the group. Then, the students will work to brainstorm as many terms as they can that are associated with the word radioactive. Finally, the students will group their terms into separate categories. Once all words are grouped into categories, the students will "label" each category. The students will share their document with the teacher. The teacher will project the List-Group-Label to the class and have each group justify how they grouped each term and labeled each group. During the activity, the teacher will question student responses and address the strengths and weaknesses of the responses to activate learning for each student. 

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    During the students' justification of their groupings, the teacher will need to informally assess student misconceptions and attitudes toward radioactivity so that the lesson can be adjusted to address these.

    In addition, the following checklist may be used to judge student responses:

    1. Do you have AT LEAST 15 terms in your List-Group-Label?

    2. Is each term grouped in a logical manner? 

    3. Does your List-Group-Label show considerable effort? 

    4. Is your List-Group-Label show depth of thought and creativity?


    At the end of the during activity, after activity, or unit, you may have students revisit this list to add terms, assess their groupings, and make changes based on new knowledge they have gained.


    Variation Tips

    Depending upon the age, maturity, and technical prowess of the students, the teacher could create one Google document for the entire class to complete this activity together instead of in smaller groups.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher will need to ensure that students will have access to devices with an internet connection for this activity. 

    The teacher will need to have background knowledge of radioactivity so that misconceptions will be recognized during the list-group-label activity.

    For more information how a List, Group, Label activity can be used, please see the link here.

    Digital Tools / Resources