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Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 3, Day 4) – Fission and Fusion: Nuclear Engineering 101

Posted by on Thursday, June 30, 2016 in Grade 5, Grade 6, SAVY.

Our Day 4 began with another heated game of Fission and Fusion Jeopardy to review concepts were learned from Day 3. This time, we ended up with a 3-way tie. Stay tuned for our final round tomorrow!

Our second activity of the day was to mix and pour our own concrete similar to the concrete used at nuclear power plants. We learned that the containment buildings at nuclear power plants have at least 1 meter thick concrete walls to withstand high pressures and to keep radioactivity from escaping into the environment. Tomorrow, we will test the strength of our concrete by dropping them from 20 feet above the ground. We will see which of our concrete cylinders are able to survive the fall!

Next, we prepped for our afternoon laboratory tour by discussing some of the beneficial applications of radiation such as in CT scans and x-rays. To better understand how doctors use CT technology to create 3-D images of the body, we practiced creating 2-D slices of 3-D objects. We quickly learned this was a very difficult task and were anxious to use the high-powered CT computers to do this for us!

The first stop of our tour was the Vanderbilt University Imaging Institute. With the help of an expert in CT scanning technology, we scanned a chicken wing in the microCT scanner. The microCT is a smaller version of the CT scanner which allows research scientists to analyze small animals to better understand diseases. Our scan revealed different bone densities inside our chicken wing and we discussed how doctors use this information to diagnose bone disorders and diseases. One of the highlights of our tours was watching a Vanderbilt professor put a live (but very sleepy) mouse into the microCT scanner in order to analyze its lungs.
Our last stop of the tour was the Vanderbilt Civil and Environmental Engineering Laboratory. There, we learned how scientists use scanning electron microscopy to characterize nuclear waste. We even did a practice scan of a concrete material that is used in nuclear waste applications.

Our last day of Fission and Fusion is tomorrow and I would like to remind all parents that we have an open house beginning at 3:15pm. A lot of the students’ work and experiments will be on display for them to explain. We are looking forward to it!