Nuclear institute helped teachers promote STEM

 

 

Twenty-one middle- and high-school teachers from Georgia and South Carolina took time out of their busy summer schedules to participate in the Southeastern Summer Nuclear Institute July 15-17 to promote nuclear education and work force development in the Southeast.

The institute was hosted by Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, and was directed to teachers who have an interest in learning or sharing more knowledge about nuclear technology applications. The key goal was to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and related careers.

The agenda for the institute included a tour of Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear power station in Burke County, with visits to the Vogtle 3 and 4 construction site; simulator exercises; and meetings with nuclear power reactor personnel. The institute also featured a tour of Savannah River Site, including waste-management facilities and briefings on activities at the Savannah River National Laboratory.

 

CLASSROOM WORKSHOPS at the University of South Carolina Aiken emphasized atomic and nuclear fundamentals; power generation fundamentals; nuclear technology applications; risk (real vs. perceived), and nuclear work force opportunities. Hands-on activities were used to illustrate important technical concepts and scientific principles that the teachers can use in their classrooms.

Attendees received educational resources, including a DVD with the workshop presentations and reference materials; teacher guides and outreach materials from the American Nuclear Society; a certificate of completion; and $50 in gift cards. All meals were provided, and on-campus housing was available for those attending from outside the local area.

In addition to CNTA, sponsoring partners of the SSNI included Georgia Power/Plant Vogtle; the SRS Community Reuse Organization, ANS –SR (Savannah River); AREVA Inc.; USCA; the Southeast Universities Nuclear Reactors Institute for Science and Education; and EnergySolutions.

 

FOLLOW-UP WITH the teachers is planned during the school year to assess the lasting impact of the institute and the value of the materials provided to the teachers. Based on the initial teacher evaluations, they were nearly unanimous in their rating of the overall value of the Institute (4.89 out of a possible 5.00) and the likelihood of recommending to other teachers (4.84/5.00). Their comments were consistent with these high ratings. Several suggested three full days next time. Also, they were impressed with the collaboration among schools, industry and business, and the strong community involvement.

Based on this very positive response, planning for the second SSNI during the summer of 2016 has started. Additional information for SSNI-2016 can be requested from Nellie Isom – nellie.isom@areva.com.

 

(The writer – a retired program manager from the Savannah River National Laboratory – is a member of the Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness Board of Directors.)

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