Detect alpha, beta, and gamma radiation

The Earth’s magnetosphere is a huge magnetic bubble. The magnetosphere protects us from significant radiation exposure and deflects the vast majority of these radiation particles. Since the International Space Station is in low-earth orbit, within the magnetosphere, the astronauts also receive a large measure of protection from radiation. In this lab, students measure the levels of radiation in their environment using a Geiger counter. Students then compare personal instances of radiation exposure, like flying on a plane or getting a medical x-ray, to the astronauts’ levels of exposure. This helps students develop an understanding of the scale and extent of radiation in the environment. Finally, students run trials to test the effectiveness of different materials to block these rays.

Materials developed in partnership with the NASA STEM on Station team.

Teacher resources