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Recycling Against Radiation

George French and Zane Vandivere


Dr. Psaker
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For this upcoming month, our primary goal is data collection. Due to unforeseen

setbacks, we have postponed the data collection to a later date. We plan on definitely collecting

the data this month; our goal is to perform the experiment within two weeks. It is imperative that

we collect our data this month in order to prepare for the extensive data analysis necessary for

the science fair in this coming March.

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Since our last progress report, we have completed all of our recycled HDPE shields.

Some shields came out too thick or thin and we had to go back and fix them by cutting/sanding

them or adding more plastic. We have also responded to new issues on Scienteer about data

analysis and X-ray safety in our experiment. We have added to our data analysis plan, which can

be found in the Data and Results section. We researched different types of statistical tests and

found the independent t-test would fit best with our data. We also found some tests we would

have to perform to ensure the data met all the necessary qualifications before performing the

t-test as well as ways to make the data meet these requirements if it did not. All sites from our

research are in the References section.

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Figure 1: This figure shows the first 6” by 12” plastic slab as it was being cut in half to make two

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Figure 2: This figure shows the two separated shields directly after they were removed from the

pancake griddle.

Figure 3: These are three of the five total recycled HDPE radiation shields that we have prepared

for this experiment.

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Materials and Methods


- Pure (non-recycled) HDPE sheets

- Recycled HDPE sheets

- X-ray machine

- Geiger counter

- Sanding tools


Testing plastic sheets

1. The first measurement taken must be the control. This should be done by simply

measuring the output radiation of the X-ray machine with no barriers. All

measurements should be taken for a duration of about 10 seconds.

2. After measuring and recording the control, one 1/2” HDPE sheet should be placed

in a position where it visibly would be hit by all x-rays travelling to the geiger

counter. Record the geiger counter readings with radiation exposure.

3. Repeat step 2 four more times, adding another 1/2” HDPE sheet directly in front

of the original sheet for each trial. For every trial, make sure that the position of

the HDPE stack does not move.

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Data and Results

After all data is recorded, as detailed in the procedure, the averages can be calculated for

each of the trials. The normality of the data and variance between each data set can be found

using a Shapiro-Wilk Test and Levene's Test, respectfully. If the data is normal and the variance

between the data sets is homogeneous, then an Independent T-Test can be performed to find the

similarity between the recycled HDPE and non-recycled HDPE data sets. If the data is not

normal, normalize it using Excel's standardize function; if the variance between the data is too

large, use an adjustment to the degrees of freedom using the Welch-Satterthwaite method. The

T-Test will then be possible. All this can and should be done in Microsoft Excel.

Create graphs using average dosage levels (measured in rads, rems, or microsieverts) as

the dependent variable and the thickness (in inches) of the HDPE stacks as the independent

variable for both data sets. Find the relationship (linear, quadratic, exponential, etc) of the

graphs. Compare the average rate of change for each graph using percent difference. The percent

difference formula is shown here:

percent difference = |pure trial - recycled trial| / (average of the pure and recycled trials)

The highest percent difference that we will accept as support for our hypothesis is 25%. Above

this number, our results support the null hypothesis.

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Independent t-test for two samples. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2019, from​.

LaMarco, N. (2018, August 24). How to Normalize in Excel. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from​.

Zaiontz, C. (n.d.). Shapiro-Wilk Original Test. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from


Zaiontz, C. (n.d.). Levene's Test. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from


Zaiontz, C. (n.d.). Welch's ANOVA Test. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from​.