Four days ago was the 72nd anniversary of a U.S. atomic bomb destroying five square miles of the city of Hiroshima. Yesterday was the 72nd anniversary of the U.S’ atomic bombing of Nagasaki. In five days time from the writing of this post, WWII ended.
Turning the tragic loss of 210000 men, women and children into a positive experience for our youngest patrons is not beyond any of us. And in many ways, I personally feel that the majority of those who perished that fateful week would want our next generation to understand the positive and constructive uses for nuclear energy.
We are on the cusp of a major eclipse, and there’s no better time while children are excited about astronomy to tell them all about the Voyager 2 spacecraft. It’s heart if a nuclear battery, decaying uranium, which has powered its mission beyond the edge of our solar system. Interestingly enough, the craft weighs as much as the average 11 year old.
Nuclear batteries have powered 22 American space missions and will power more in the future.
Check out NASA’s amazing interactive diagram of the Voyager 2 spacecraft: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/mission/spacecraft/
|Lesson: Atomic Candy
In this activity developed by the Science House at North Carolina State University, students in grades 5 – 11 will use M&Ms to learn about radioactivity, the rate at which an isotope decays, and the concept of half-life. They will count and record the number of decayed “atoms” and graph the results.
STEM Careers include nuclear engineers – who incidentally make about $65-$100000/year – to nuclear medicine. Let’s not forget that without nuclear medicine, we could not have access to the incredible medical imaging we have today. Check out some of the careers at CareerKids.com.
So, you want to build your own nuclear reactor. Well, we’re going to have to cover a few topics first:
• nuclear fission
• the chain reaction in a nuclear reactor
• electricity generation in a nuclear power plant
• safety of the reactor and nuclear waste
• arguments both for and against nuclear power
• financing the building of a nuclear power plant
Good thing there’s this handy video to explain it all!