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Penny Half-life Lab

Main Core Tie

Science - Chemistry
Standard 2 Objective 2

Time Frame

1 class periods of 60 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups


Utah LessonPlans


Students will use pennies to model the half-life of radioactive atoms



  • student sheet (attached)
  • 100 pennies per lab group
  • bag or plastic box or storage container sturdy enough to shake them in

Instructional Procedures

  1. Pre-count the pennies into a bag per 4 students.
  2. "Hook" the students with a piece wood or fabric. Tell them it was found with a mummy in a pyramid and the archeologists want to find out how old it is.
  3. Read the introduction and describe where the materials are located.
  4. Allow students time to work and ask them to post the age they found for the clothing on the board.
  5. Discuss why student results might be different from one another.
  6. Allow time for analysis questions and graphing.


Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Created: 12/11/2014
Updated: 02/05/2018