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ReActions May 2017

Janice HeadshotAs the school year winds down, you’ve probably got summer on your mind. While some may think teachers spend the long break kicking back, we know you’ll spend at least some of that precious time planning for the school year ahead. But planning doesn’t have to mean work; we’ve gathered some ideas for teaching that combine play with planning.

Cloud chambers are an engaging way of visualizing radioactivity, but too often multiple students have to share one chamber. We have a DIY cloud chamber you can practice building this summer and be ready to teach students to make in the fall.

We’ve reviewed two online presentation and infographic providers available at a teacher-friendly price: free. Play around creating sample posters and presentations so you can help students navigate these powerful design tools in the new school year.

You’ll be inspired by the story of a 16-year-old who built a nuclear fuser at home. His experience is ideal for encouraging students who want to know more about nuclear technology to follow their interest outside the classroom.

Finally, it’s not too late to register for our national workshop, Detecting Radiation in our Radioactive World, June 10 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Hope to see you there.

Enjoy your break!


May 16, 2017 Volume 40
Featured Highlight

It's Summertime and the Learning Is Easy

Ideas and inspiration to build your nuclear science teaching toolkit for fall.

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When you attend an ANS nationally-sponsored teacher workshop this year, you’ll receive a cloud chamber kit complements of Southern Nuclear. Your next opportunity is around the corner: our June 10 workshop in San Francisco. Registration is still open.

If you can’t make it to San Francisco, we’ve got the next best option—DIY cloud chambers you can have your students build. We found two, designed by Masahiro Kamata, Miko Kubota, and Kyohei Yoshinaga of the Department of Science Education at the Tokyo Gakugei University. Both chambers are easy to make from readily available materials and—here’s the best part—need no dry ice for cooling.

Both of the chamber designs require felt, aluminum tape, and plastic and/or aluminum containers for the observation chamber and heat reservoir.  One design uses an immersible aluminum “radiator” for cooling. The radiator is placed in a salt and ice water solution and the chamber positioned on top. The other design makes use of a cooling plate constructed of a zipper bag full of frozen salt water sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum.  Practice building either one—or both—yourself some rainy summer day. And send us photos of your creations to!

Some kids love them, some hate them, and some just let their mom make them—presentation boards, that is. For artistically-inclined students, creating an attractive presentation board can be enjoyable. For others, even the best aesthetic intentions can fall victim to a lack of innate artistic ability. The following two web-based presentation and infographic creating programs make it easy for students to make interesting, impactful posters, presentations, timelines, and more. Both of them offer free access, but can also be upgraded for more features.


Students can select from more than 600 templates for infographics, presentations, and letter-size printables. Templates can be edited to change fonts and colors, and add icons, charts, maps, and graphs.  In addition, data can be uploaded to a Google spreadsheet and then integrated into the design. Making things even easier are Piktochart’s video tutorials. Discounted upgrade pricing is available to educators.


Visme lets users start from a template or from scratch. More than 250 templates are available, including infographics, presentations, and resumes. All templates can be edited with available shapes, icons, videos, audio, charts, and graphs. Creations can be downloaded, shared on social media, published on the Web, or shared off-line. Student privacy is assured through password protection. While there aren’t video tutorials, the help section provides numerous illustrated, step-by-step tutorials.

How many of your students have built a nuclear reactor? It sounds preposterous, but that is exactly what New Jersey high school student Steven Udotong did recently. Steven is an advocate of clean energy and believes that nuclear power has great potential to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. To demonstrate his commitment, he decided to build a nuclear fusion reactor, also known as a fusor, which uses an electric field to fuse nuclei.

Steven’s curiosity about nuclear energy was piqued while studying the topic in sophomore Chemistry. Not satisfied with just the classroom instruction, he conducted independent research and discovered he could build his own DIY demonstration fusor. Using funds he received through a personal crowd funding account, he began building his fusor. In addition to web research, Steven contacted ANS for information about his project and to share his thoughts about nuclear energy.

Read more about Steven in an article on the ANS Nuclear Cafe by author Will Davis and Cafe editor Linda Zec. ANS’s outreach staff, myself included, frequently receives student questions, though most aren’t inquiring about building a reactor at home. Students can contact us at

June 10, 2017 Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, CA

Join ANS for a full-day exploration of nuclear and radiation science. You’ll work alongside our nuclear professionals gaining knowledge and inspiration that will leave you ready to engage your students about learning nuclear science. Every participant receives the ANS Teacher Resource Guide full of interactive lessons aligned to NGSS standards as well as a FREE Geiger counter to take back to their classroom. Registration required.

June 12-16, 2017 Nuclear Science and Engineering for Secondary Science Teachers University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

This one-week course, designed specifically for high school science teachers, provides the basics of nuclear science, types of radiation, radiation detection and protection, industrial applications of nuclear science, and current and future nuclear power generation technologies. In addition to classroom work, the course includes demonstrations of reactor control and materials analysis methods, including Neutron Activation Analysis and X-Ray Fluorescence. Tours during the course will include the Callaway Nuclear Center, the University of Missouri’s Research Reactor Facility, and MU’s Nuclear Medicine therapy and diagnostic clinics. SPACE IS LIMITED.

Registration required at:

July 24-28, 2017 The Science of Nuclear Energy & Radiation Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Sharpen your knowledge and understanding of nuclear energy and radiation, so you can inspire students with factual, up-to-date information about nuclear science and technology. The workshop features laboratories and hands-on activities as well as tours of North Anna Nuclear Power Station and VCU’s Nuclear Medicine facilities. Receive a free Geiger-Muller counter to take back to your classroom. Course fee: $75. Registration deadline: June 30, 2016.

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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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