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Summer SAVY Session 3, Day 5 – Fission and Fusion: Nuclear Engineering 101

Posted by on Friday, June 30, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 5:  Good evening SAVY students and parents! WOW! What a wonderful day to wrap up our nuclear energy camp! Today, we continued to delve deeper into the Chernobyl Disaster and investigate the lasting impact on the environment from the radiation. Students were able to make connections to similar impacts that air pollution has on the environment where we live. We had an insightful group discussion that led us into a whole group discussion. The engineers then began to critically think about radioactive waste and decay. We completed a lab that included pennies, dice, and brass fasteners to mimic the radioactive waste that can be left behind from nuclear power plants on a long-term level. Students did several trials of shaking the different items in a shoebox and removing certain ones. For example, each time they shook the pennies in the box, they had to remove the ones that landed on heads. They recorded their trials on their graphs and discussed any patterns they observed. We shared our findings as a whole group and compared the patterns. We compared the items to show how radiation wastes stayed in the environment for years. We watched a short video on radiation and radioactive waste, and each group made a chart of pros and cons of nuclear energy. The nuclear engineers were given certain pros and cons but then had the chance to add their own list. They did such a great job with this activity and lab! We ended the day with a discussion on our initial problem: is nuclear energy a friend or foe? Some opinions changed from the beginning of the week to the end of the week! They did a great job of stating their opinion and elaborating their stance on the subject.

Ways to continue to help your student in this learning process include the following:

  • Discussing systems, including family systems, educational systems, and so on.

  • Allowing your child to describe a problem and try to solve it.

  • Engaging your child in scientific experimentation exercises based on everyday events. For example, in a grocery store, how would you test whether it is better to go in a long line with people who have few items or a short line with people who have full carts?

  • Visiting area science museums and the library to explore how scientists solve problems.

  • Using a problem-based learning model to question students about an issue they might have about the real world.

I am so proud of each and every student for thinking critically, problem-solving, and working together as a team. So much learning took place, and fun was had by all!! Thank you for sharing your wonderfully brilliant students with me! I hope you all have a wonderful summer!

Shelley Jenkins and Joshua Knight