Looking to teach the Nuclear Science Merit Badge, had a couple of q's

1. Jul 10, 2012

iamthegraham

Hi everyone, I'm a counselor at a boy scout camp and we're looking at adding the Nuclear Science Merit Badge to our program. I had a couple questions about it for someone more knowledgeable than myself so hopefully someone here can help!

-Two requirements involve the construction of a cloud chamber and an electroscope, and testing them with radioactive material. I was wondering if a) anyone had any tips on how to do these simply (I've seen a couple good DIY guides, and I'm looking at doing a simple petri dish cloud chamber w/ 91% isoprobyl alcohol and a mason jar / aluminum foil /copper wire electroscope, but any other advice would be appreciated) and b, if a bit of Americium from a smoke detector would be a safe & effective way to do this. It seems to me that it would work fine with the cloud chamber, but for the electroscope I'm thinking I might need something with beta decay?

-One (optional) requirement involves using a radiation survey meter and testing a few different things with it. My camp director has given me a budget of $100 to purchase one, will this be sufficient for something decent enough to pick up some background radiation, Americium, and maybe like a banana or something? I saw a bunch of Victoreen CDV-7xx model geiger counters on ebay for$60-\$100, would one of those probably work?

I appreciate any advice! The full MB requirements are avaialable here if anyone wants to take a look at them: http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Nuclear_Science