WAYNESBORO, Ga. — The light bulb went on Wednesday morning for a group of advanced math pupils from Lakeside Middle School as they toured Plant Vogtle, some envisioning future careers in engineering, mechanics and other sciences.
Feet barely off the yellow bus, the pupils stood in awe of Plant Vogtle’s massive cooling towers as eighth-grade math teacher Angela Stokes started planning future lesson plans.
Stokes scanned the plant, noticing geometric shapes in the hyperbolic cooling towers and domes on the nuclear reactor containment structures.
The math and science lessons had only just begun for the pupils, who learned about the process to make electricity at the Southern Co. plant about 35 miles south of Augusta.
First, they visited the cooling towers for units 1 and 2. Then, the group toured the control room training center for units 3 and 4, the first commercial nuclear reactors built in the U.S. in decades.
Ajla Dzin, 13, was amazed at the construction work underway to build units 3 and 4. She said the visit to Plant Vogtle helped her see ways to apply her classroom math and science lessons in a career.
“It’s really beneficial to me. I get to see what it’s like in the real world,” said Ajla, who wants to study science and possibly engineering in college. “It shows me what I’d like to be and what I can become.”
The school tour was part of National Nuclear Science Week, an annual event that encourages education and awareness of nuclear technologies and careers.
“When you get out of high school and go to college, you’ll have a whole lot of things on your mind,” Southern Co. spokesman Mike McCracken told the pupils. “What you probably haven’t thought a whole lot about is electricity or working for a power company.”
Stokes, who previously worked at Plant Vogtle as a systems analyst, hoped several of her students would pursue careers at the plant. In her classroom, she plans hands-on activities and practical applications that encourage jobs in math and science.
“We don’t want them just churning numbers at their desk anymore,” she said.