This page focuses on the course 22.S902 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Geiger Counters as it was taught by Prof. Michael Short in IAP 2015.
This experimental one-week course, offered during the January IAP term , is a freshman-accessible hands-on introduction to Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. Students build and test their own Geiger Counter, and in so doing, they explore different types and sources of radiation, how to detect them, how to shield them, and how to accurately count/measure their activity. This course is meant to be enjoyable and rigorous at the same time.
This course prepares students to start undergraduate work in nuclear science and engineering. It exposes them to buzzwords and key concepts. The course also enables them to test a few of these concepts. This is important, because the fundamentals of nuclear science are typically not taught in high schools.
The course also provides students with the fundamentals needed for the study of radiation physics. Students interested in pursuing radiology or interstellar radiation will find it useful.
This was a first-time experimental offering during IAP.
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
In assessing student learning, we attended to whether or not students accounted for experimental error in their work. We wanted to know if they were thinking about statistics, or just writing down the numbers generated by the counters. We checked to see if they were thinking critically about the data. For example, if students got a background count of 0, we didn’t want them to assume that that number meant there was no radiation in the room. We wanted them to consider the fact that something may have gone wrong with their experiment, such as a loose wire. These were the kinds of things that we paid attention to in our grading.
1/2 freshmen, 1/2 graduate students. Several visiting graduate students from SUTD (Singapore University of Technology and Design) also participated.
The bigger the better, up to about 25-30 students (assuming 2 or 3 talented TAs).
This was a one-week course, in which students were expected to spend approximately 40 hours, divided as follows:
In the following pages, Prof. Michael Short describes various aspects of how he taught 22.S902 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Geiger Counters.