Today we started the Nuclear Physics unit in AP Physics B. While introducing the concept of binding energy, it struck me that an energy LOL diagram, where the mass of the atom before and after is treated as an energy storage mode, would clearly demonstrate the concept. I have never used LOL diagrams in the context of nuclear physics, but, for the first time, students this year are familiar with them. Here’s an example LOL diagram illustrating the energy required to remove a neutron from Carbon-13.
Later in the lesson, I sketched an LOL diagram to demonstrate the decay of Radium and that no energy is added to the system:
I think this will make nuclear physics more accessible, less mysterious, and reinforce the conservation of energy concept.