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Author: Matteo Albéri, Marica Baldoncini, Carlo Bottardi, Enrico Chiarelli, Sheldon Landsberger, Kassandra Giulia Cristina Raptis , Andrea Serafini, Virginia Strati and Fabio Mantovani

Institute: Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Hamburg, University of Texas 


Although environmental radioactivity is all around us, the collective public imagination often associates a negative feeling to this natural phenomenon. To increase the familiarity with this phenomenon we have designed, implemented, and tested an interdisciplinary educational activity for pre-collegiate students in which nuclear engineering and computer science are ancillary to the comprehension of basic physics concepts. Teaching and training experiences are performed by using a 4”  4” NaI(Tl) detector for in-situ and laboratory-ray spectroscopy measurements.
Students are asked to directly assemble the experimental setup and to manage the data-taking with a dedicated Android app, which exploits a client-server system that is based on the Bluetooth communication protocol. The acquired-ray spectra and the experimental results are analyzed using a multiple-platform software environment and they are finally shared on an open accessWeb-GIS service. These all-round activities combining theoretical background, hands-on setup operations, data analysis, and critical synthesis of the results were demonstrated to be effective in increasing students’ awareness in quantitatively investigating environmental radioactivity. Supporting information to the basic physics concepts provided in this article can be found at http://www.fe.infn.it/radioactivity/ educational.