Half-Life Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson provides you with a quiz, activity, and discussion questions that will help your students grasp the concept of half-lives in an entertaining fashion.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • define half-life
  • collect and graph simple data encompassing the concept of half-lives


1 - 2 hours


  • M&Ms or Skittles
  • Twizzlers or pretzel sticks
  • Daisy cups or small Ziploc bags
  • Markers/chalk and erasers for the class board

Curriculum Standards


Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.


Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Key Terms

  • Half-life
  • Chemical reaction
  • Nuclear reaction
  • Decay
  • Beta decay


Warm Up

  • Begin by asking a couple of questions:
    • Has anyone heard of half-life?
    • What about carbon dating?


  • Play the video Half-life: Calculating Radioactive Decay and Interpreting Decay Graphs. During the video, have students take notes, including key terms and concepts.
  • Once your students have finished watching the video, ask them if they have any questions, then discuss:
    • What is half-life?
    • What do we mean by 'decay' with respect to half-lives?
    • Describe the concept of beta decay to your students.
    • Discuss how carbon dating works.


  • Have the class take the lesson quiz. Go over all the questions and answers to ensure your students have understood the lesson.

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