Education Technology

Nuclear Binding Energy

Activity Overview

Students explore the energy that results from the strong force in nuclei. The activity begins with the unexpected result that the mass of a nucleus is less than the sum of the masses of the protons and neutrons in the nucleus. In Part 2 of the activity, students analyze a graph to determine the ratio of neutrons to protons in stable nuclei. Then, they investigate how fission and fusion of nuclei can be accounted for in terms of the binding energy per nucleon.

Key Steps

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    Students should read the text on page 2.3 and then move to page 2.4. The Lists & Spreadsheet application on page 2.4 contains data on the number of protons and neutrons in 81 assorted stable nuclei. Students should enter the equation they derived in question 8 into column D of the spreadsheet.