Fermilab LInC Online


Over the past several decades the teaching of radioactivity and nuclear reactions has been on the decline. The purpose of this project is to reverse the trend in teaching of nuclear science. The approach is to make it both easy and rewarding for students to take the challenge.

Most schools have a unit of nuclear science in both chemistry and physics as part of the curriculum. The nuclear science chapter is in most cases at the end of the textbook. Today we are finding the textbooks getting thicker because more and more information is being added. The result of this is that it takes longer to get to the chapter on nuclear science, if it is reached at all. In addition, we find that colleges are not adequately preparing teachers to deal with the topic of nuclear energy. Therefore, teachers don't feel confident enough to teach the topic and choose to omit it.

This project will start with a letter from Los Alamos Labs. Students will be given the letter to read in class. Once the students have read the letter, they will talk about the body of the letter in a group discussion. The discussion can and should take many directions. "What can you tell us about the history of the atomic bomb?" Please elaborate on the subject. "How about today's weapons?" A student should be selected to record phrases on the board from the discussion. Moving on with the letter start a discussion about the use of nuclear power for propulsion of ships. "I think the letter is about the book 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea." "What is the General talking about?" Lead a discussion about heating and lighting of our cities with nuclear power. The last part of the discussion should deal with nuclear medicine family have received." All parts of the discussion should be recorded.

In second session will be used to divide the groups up into each of the headings established on the first meeting. "How will you approach your topic of study." The students will spend time organizing and developing a plan. The groups will need to have plan in place by the third session. All members of the group will need a role. This could be the group leader, recorders, and researchers.

At the end of each week the groups will come together to discuss common problems they may be having and how they can help each other. A general recording of information will be posted on the board. This project will last approximately three weeks. Each group will determine how they will handle the information for their final presentation at the end of the project. Students will keep a daily journal. In the journal they will keep track of their of their individual accomplishments.

The teacher will guide the student in their discoveries. He or she will make suggestions for finding information. This could include asking a scientist for solutions or information about the project.

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author: Phil Parker
School: Rufus King High School, Milwaukee, WI
Created: March 1, 1999 - Updated: May 5, 1999
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w99/projects/nuclear/scenario.html