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Data sets
Resources

Data sets

ANSTO scientists have released a selection of their research data for use in the classroom. The data is sourced directly from real scientific investigations. Each data set is accompanied by a worksheet that can form the basis of a series of classroom activities. Teachers can email the Discovery Centre (education@ansto.gov.au) for a copy of the answers. 

Investigating isotopes
Isotope

 

Learn about isotopes using real examples and real data, including comprehensive isotopic data of the first twenty chemical elements in the periodic table (hydrogen to calcium). Teachers can use the accompanying worksheet, in sections or in its entirety, to develop student skills in literacy, numeracy, critical and creative thinking and ICT. These activities are suitable for students in Years 9 to 12.

Students will:

  • learn how the number of neutrons and protons in an isotope affects its nuclear properties
  • construct a section of the Table of isotopes, using MS Excel
  • investigate the properties and uses of different isotopes

Student worksheet

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Radionuclides in medicine
Doctor viewing SPECT scan
Doctor viewing a SPECT scan

Radionuclides have been used routinely in medicine for more than 60 years. Nuclear medicine uses radiation to provide information about the functioning of a person's specific organs to diagnose or treat disease. The radionuclides used in medicine have half-lives ranging from a few minutes to several days in order to minimise the radiation dose the patient receives. For three unknown medical radionuclides, students will graph their decay over time, use the graph to calculate their half-life, and determine the identify and use of each radionuclide using background information provided.

Student worksheet and data set

Historic greenhouse gas concentrations from Antarctic ice core sampling
Gas in ice
Antarctic ice containing bubbles of ancient air

ANSTO Physicist Andrew Smith collaborates with international scientists to study historical greenhouse gas concentrations from Antarctic ice core samples. This data set contains temperature records and concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane from the last 800,000 years. 

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Student worksheet

Monitoring air pollution and traffic density in Sydney
Smog over Sydney CBD
Air pollution over Sydney CBD

ANSTO Environmental Researcher Scott Chambers uses a naturally-occurring radioactive gas called Radon-222 to trace sources of pollution in the atmosphere. This data set contains hourly observations of meteorology, trace gas pollutants, Radon-222 concentration and traffic density collected from Western Sydney University (Richmond campus) in 2016. 

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Student worksheet

Monitoring fine particle air pollution in Newcastle
BHP Steelworks Newcastle
BHP Newcastle Steelworks at sunrise from across the Hunter River, September 24, 1997 (Source: Newcastle Herald)

ANSTO has been measuring and characterising fine particle pollution from key sites around Australia for more than 30 years. This data set provides records from 1998 to 2019 of the concentration of 12 elements present in fine airborne particulate matter from an air sampling station located in Mayfield in Newcastle, NSW.

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Student worksheet

Praxical have worked with ANSTO to adapt parts of this resource to make a free online learning module about monitoring air pollution.

Praxical workshop - monitoring air pollution

Air pollution from combustion processes in Newcastle
Traffic in Newcastle
Vehicle emissions contribute to fine particle air pollution in Newcastle (Photo credit: Newcastle Herald)

Combustion reactions in vehicles, household woodfires and coal-fired power plants all result in fine particle air pollution in the air we breathe. ANSTO has been measuring and characterising fine particle pollution from key sites around Australia for more than 30 years. This data set provides records from 1998 to 2019 of the concentration of 12 elements present in fine airborne particulate matter from an air sampling station located in Mayfield in Newcastle, NSW.

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Student worksheet

Praxical have worked with ANSTO to adapt parts of this resource to make a free online learning module about monitoring air pollution.

Praxical workshop - monitoring air pollution

Investigating radiation in the air we breathe
Balloons
We used electrostatically-charged balloons to accumulate radon progeny from the air (Getty Images).

Radioactive radon gas is a decay product of uranium and thorium, which are found naturally in rocks, soil and building materials. Radon is a significant component of background radiation and can accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor environments. In this data set, we investigated the effect of charging a balloon, which was then hung in an enclosed space, on its level of radioactivity. Students will write a hypothesis, graph data, write a conclusion and use provided information to answer questions about radioactivity and radon, experimental design, accuracy, validity and reliability.

Data file (Excel worksheet)

Student worksheet

Aligning Taipan, one of ANSTO's neutron scattering instruments
Monochromator in a neutron diffraction instrument
An animation of a neutron scattering instrument at ANSTO

Scientists ensure their measurements are accurate and precise by regularly calibrating their instruments. In this data set, students manipulate and graph calibration data from Taipan, one of ANSTO's neutron scattering instruments. Students must determine whether Taipan is functioning within the acceptable limits of error for the scientists' experiments.  

Data file (Excel spreadsheet)

Student worksheet