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ReActions August 2017

Janice HeadshotYou’re back! Or you will be soon. Though the school year has just gotten underway, it’s not too soon to start thinking about Nuclear Science Week (NSW), taking place this year from October 16–20 this year. Once again, ANS and the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information are playing “Tweet to Win.” Throughout the week, we’ll be watching our Twitter feed for pictures of your NSW activities. We’ve got great prizes for the winners, including a Geiger counter and cloud chambers. Read about how to win in the story below. In this issue, you’ll also find a story about the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, the founder of Nuclear Science Week. And, be sure to read about the University of Colorado’s PhET online simulations, which bring nuclear science experiments into the classroom safely. So, welcome back! I hope this is your best year ever, and remember: we’ll be looking for your tweets during Nuclear Science Week.

August 22, 2017 Volume 41
Featured Highlight

Let's Get Back to School!

Ideas and inspiration for teaching nuclear science

Latest News

The school year just got underway, but it’s not too soon to start planning for Nuclear Science Week (NSW), October 16-20 this year. To give you a little incentive, ANS is once again playing “Tweet to Win” during NSW. Here’s how it works: plan your NSW activities, photograph them, then tweet the photos throughout Nuclear Science Week to @ans_org with hashtag #ANSNSW17. The teacher posting the most tweets will win a working vintage Geiger counter, a complete cloud chamber kit, and radioactive sources. Runner-up prizes include a cloud chamber kit, books, and other nuclear science-related items.

If you’re looking for inspiration in planning your activities, we have a number of ideas on Most of the activities are adaptable for in-class or after-school settings, such as STEM clubs. You’ll find more resources on the Nuclear Science Week website as well. You can plan a new activity for every day, or  host one larger activity, such as a family nuclear science night. Don’t hesitate to contact the ANS local and student sections in your area for assistance. Many sections are involved in outreach to schools and can lend an expert for classroom visits and events. Of course, you can also contact Janice Lindegard for additional ideas and inspiration.

Nuclear Science Week is an international five-day  celebration, held each year during the third week in October, to focus local, regional, national and international interest on all aspects of nuclear science. It was created by the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, along with a group of nuclear industry partners. During this time, educators, students, employers, and the community participate in activities intended to build awareness of the contributions of the nuclear science industry and those who work in it every day.

Unless you teach at one of the 24 universities in the U.S. that are home to a research reactor, your students likely don’t conduct many live experiments in nuclear science. The PhET Interactive Simulations Project is the next best thing to having a reactor handy. An initiative of the Colorado University Department of Physics, PhET simulations can bring interactive nuclear science activities into virtually any classroom at no cost.

According to the project directors, “the PhET Interactive Simulations Project provides simulations (sims) specifically designed and tested to support student learning.” PhET sims cover STEM subjects including physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math. Among the nuclear science sims you’ll find are alpha decay, beta decay, fission, simplified MRI, and the Radioactive Dating Game, in which students test their ability to match the age of an object to the percent of a dating element remaining in it.

PhET developers believe sims are most effective when used in guided inquiry activities, and they’ve got abundant resources to help teachers create them. You’ll find PDFs of guidelines for creating lessons, videos of workshops, sample activities, and a continually expanding library of activities created by fellow teachers. Most PhET sims are coded in HTML5 and available across platforms, such as Chromebooks, iPads, and laptops, facilitating bring-your-own device policies.

Nuclear science has a rich history, involving some of the most gifted scientists who ever lived. Its future looks equally fascinating. Chronicling it all is the job of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the only congressionally-chartered museum in its field.  The museum is also a founding force in the creation of Nuclear Science Week, held each year during the third week of October.

Many of the museum’s exhibits are available for rent by schools, libraries, and other exhibitors. Exhibits at the museum are designed to provide an objective window into the past, present, and future of nuclear science. Permanent exhibits cover everything from the origins of atomic theory through modern-day advances in nuclear medicine – and even begin to speculate about the future of nuclear science. Temporary exhibits often include artworks, such as Atoms for Peace, a collection of lithographs created for General Dynamics Corporation in the 1950s and 60s. Other exhibits explore the history of nuclear science, including nuclear pioneers Marie Curie and Lise Meitner, as well as important historical events.

Throughout the year, the museum holds teacher workshops, and numerous camps and activities for local children, but you don’t have to visit the museum to benefit from it. Through September 1, the museum is accepting submissions for its fourth annual STEaM Photography Competition. While the competition is open to anyone, there is a youth category for those aged 17 or younger and open categories for those over 18, as well as professional photographers. Encourage your students to participate! There are cash prizes for first, second, and third place in the youth category. Winning entries will be displayed at the museum. Year ‘round, you’ll find an extensive list of resources for teachers on the museum website, covering nuclear as well as other sciences. And, the museum’s staff of professional educators is available to assist teachers.

Detecting Radiation in our Radioactive World Registration required

Join ANS for a fun, full-day exploration of nuclear and radiation science. Participants take home a FREE Geiger counter for use in their classrooms. Thanks to a generous donation from Southern Nuclear, participants will also receive a cloud chamber kit, classroom-safe radiation sources, and other materials as well as the opportunity to win an Isotope Discovery Kit, valued at more than $580. Leave prepared to engage your students in learning about nuclear science and radiation.

Get more information and register now!

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Sign up for ReActions™, the e-newsletter for educators that offers teaching ideas about nuclear science and technology. It is published by the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information, an initiative of the American Nuclear Society, between September and May.

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