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Love It or Leave It: Living in the Nuclear Age (0 Favorites)

PROJECT in Radiation, Radioactive Isotopes, Fission/Fusion. Last updated July 28, 2020.


Summary

In this project, students will produce a short research essay to examine not only the information discussed in class, but to expand the scope of this fundamental foundation of information to begin to develop their own sense of perspective of living in the Nuclear Age.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This project will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS1-8: Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
    • PS1.C: Nuclear Processes: Nuclear processes, including fusion, fission, and radioactive decays of unstable nuclei, involve release or absorption of energy. The total number of neutrons plus protons does not change in any nuclear process.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Objectives

By the end of this project, students should be able to:

  • Conduct research and produce a report that defines what is meant by the “Nuclear Age” showing an understanding of the fundamental concepts of radiation, radioactivity, fission, and fusion.
  • Show the scientific benefits that can be directly attributed to advances in work do in the field of nuclear science. These should include things from expanding the understanding of the structure of the atom to uses in medical technology.
  • Share a perspective of how developments during the Nuclear Age have affected society in general from the role it has played in global political interactions to its role in popular culture (examples: bomb shelters and movies).
  • Demonstrate their own personal perspective of “Living in the Nuclear Age” with their own interpretation of the progress science has made in its manipulation of matter and if the benefits outweigh the costs over time.

Chemistry Topics

This project supports students’ understanding of:

  • Nuclear Decay
  • Radioactivity
  • Fission and Fusion reactions
  • Science and Society: the impact of advances in nuclear science

Time

Teacher Preparation: 1 -2 hours.
Lesson: 1 - 2 weeks (independent research project)

Materials

  • Research materials (including but not limited to)
    • Internet
    • Libraries
    • Candidates for interviews

Safety

  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this project.

Teacher Notes

  • This activity is designed as an independent research project for a culminating assessment at the conclusion of the unit on the fundamentals of Nuclear Chemistry. It should be assigned after the students have completed other lessons related to Nuclear Chemistry.
  • Students should have an understanding of the basic nuclear decay reactions as well as Fission and Fusion reactions in order to complete this project.
  • One of the things that is comforting in teaching science is that for the most part every problem that you put in front of you students will have an answer. Though there may be variations in the pathway that the students follow there is usually just the one acceptable answer to the question. What is missing in all of this however, is that the outcomes of these answers and the concepts that they help students to understand can and many times will shape the students feelings about the concept. Nuclear Chemistry offers a great opportunity for students to begin to explore the process of examining these opinions.
  • One of the most powerful components of this activity is the requirement that the students interview at least one adult to ask them about their personal perceptions about the effects of developments in nuclear science. Depending on your own experiences with nuclear chemistry, you should reflect on your own perspective of the effects of the advances nuclear chemistry. Things to consider would be:
    • Do you have personal experiences growing up that have influenced your own opinion about nuclear science? (I, for example, am old enough to remember the end of the “cold war” and lived during a period of time when the threat of nuclear war was very real. Films like “Red Dawn” and “War Games” demonstrated how nuclear science had integrated itself into our society).
    • Be careful to not promote your own opinion of nuclear science.
    • Be clear that the goal for this activity goes beyond having students demonstrate that they understand the fundamental concepts of Nuclear Chemistry from the unit; but that this activity is encouraging them to reflect not just on the facts that they have learned but on the effects of these concepts on society and themselves.
    • Some students will struggle with the idea of expressing their own opinions. For many students, this may be the first time that anyone has asked them to research not just the facts but the effects of science on multiple perspectives of society.
  • A rubric has been included for teacher reference.

For the Student

Introduction

This unit has presented you with an introduction to the “Nuclear Age.” You have come across many adults who are old enough to have grown up during the latter part of the “Cold War” era, and may have had firsthand experience with the medical benefits of nuclear isotopes. Though they may not talk about it, it is very likely that they have developed their own opinions and perspectives of the results of living in the Nuclear Age.

The purpose of this short research essay is for you, the student, to examine not only the information discussed in this class; but to expand the scope of this fundamental foundation of information to begin to develop your own sense of perspective of living in the Nuclear Age.

The Product

Using a variety of resources, which must include at least one of each of the following types:

  • Print Journal/Periodical
  • Internet (reliable)
  • Personal Interview (Adult who has lived through at least part of the Cold War era)

You will collect information to present your own “picture” of the development of science and society in the Nuclear Age. The essay should be of reasonable length, no more than 3-5 pages, and should clearly demonstrate a clear understanding of each of the following concepts.

  1. A definition of what is meant by the “Nuclear Age” showing an understanding of the fundamental concepts of radiation, radioactivity, fission, and fusion.
  2. Overviews of the scientific benefits that can be directly attributed to advances in work do in the field of nuclear science. These should include things from expanding our understanding of the structure of the atom to uses in medical technology.
  3. A perspective of how developments during the Nuclear Age have affected society in general from the role it has played in global political interactions to its role in popular culture (think things like bomb shelters and movies).
  4. Lastly, your essay should demonstrate your own personal perspective of “Living in the Nuclear Age” with your own interpretation of the progress science has made in its manipulation of matter and if the benefits outweigh the costs over time.

This essay will be submitted by ____________.

It should include a properly formatted in-text citations as well as bibliography.