During the last few years teaching physics, I have noticed that my students are becoming more and more interested in the topic of radiation. Mobile phones, modern game consoles, and WiFi—all of these devices involving some kind of radiation are part of our students' everyday lives. Students are also frequently confronted in the media with debates relating to different types of radiation: What are the effects of nuclear contamination going to be after the Fukushima accident? Can radiation from mobile phones really cause cancer? Should the use of tanning booths be forbidden for teenagers? Although students seem to be very motivated to learn about the topic of radiation, I have encountered several misconceptions about this topic that my students bring into the physics classroom. Some of these misconceptions might be caused by biased media reports, while others can be attributed to a different usage of the word radiation in everyday language (when compared to the scientific usage of this term). In this paper, I would like to present the most common misconceptions about radiation that I have encountered in my physics courses and I would like to give some ideas how to confront these ideas in teaching. A detailed description of these misconceptions discovered through empirical research can be found in one of my research articles.1

1.
Susanne
Neumann
and
Martin
Hopf
, “
Students' conceptions about ‘radiation’: Results from an explorative interview study of 9th grade students
,”
J. Sci. Educ. Technol.
21
(
6
),
826
834
(
2012
).
2.
Paul
Hewitt
, “
Figuring Physics: Which of these continually emits electromagnetic radiation?
Phys. Teach.
40
,
238
(
April 2002
).
3.
A number of articles about the use of IR cameras in science classes have been published. See, for instance,
Michael
Vollmer
 et al, “
There is more to see than eyes can detect
,”
Phys. Teach.
39
,
371
376
(
Sept. 2001
),
Charles
Xie
and
Edmund
Hazzard
, “
Infrared imaging for inquiry-based learning
,”
Phys. Teach.
49
,
368
370
(
Sept. 2011
), and
Allan
Mills
, “
An inexpensive digital infrared camera
,”
Phys. Educ.
47
,
297
(
2012
).
4.
See, for instance,
James S.
Dickson
, “
Radiation meets food
,”
Phys. Today
65
(
2
),
66
67
(
2012
).
5.
The worksheet can be sent upon request via email (susanne.neumann@univie.ac.at).
6.
Hakan
Isik
and
Kemal
Yurumezoglu
, “
Two simple activities to bring rainbows into the classroom
,”
Phys. Teach.
50
,
38
39
(
Jan. 2012
).
7.
James
O'Connell
, “
Decoding the TV remote control
,”
Phys. Teach.
38
,
6
(
Jan. 2010
).
8.
Rosalind
Driver
,
Edith
Guesne
, and
Andrée
Tiberghien
,
Children's Ideas in Science
(
Open University Press, Milton Keynes
,
Philadelphia
,
1985
).
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