Laboratory Exercise

Laboratory Exercise.

I’m studying for my Biology class and need an explanation.

Laboratory Exercise :

In this lab, you will experiment with a half-life model in which M&M candies represent radioactive atoms. The imprinted “M” on each candy represents whether the atom has become stable or not. Students place the candies “M”-side down in a box, shake them, and then count the number of “changed” atoms. The graphs that students produce also make half-life easier to understand.


100 M&M’s

plastic box with lid

graph paper


1. Place the candies “M”-side down in the shoe box.

2. Close the cover and shake.

3. Open the box and remove all the “changed” candies (those turned “M”-side up).

4. Count and record the number of “unchanged” candies remaining in the box. Record this data on the chart below.


Number of “unchanged Atoms









5. Repeat steps 2,3, and 4 until all the candies have turned or you fill in 8 rows on your table.

6. Construct your own graph using the data from your chart. On the graph, draw a curve for the data through your points. In this model of half-life decay, each shake is comparable to the passing of time (x-axis): the number of “unchanged” candies is comparable to the number of unchanged atoms (y-axis).

7. List and explain some examples of where half-life analysis would be useful in the real world. You may research this using any reference at your disposal.

Laboratory Exercise

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