Saturday, December 10, 2011

Resources for Nuclear Education In High Schools

Back to High School

So far, in blogging and nuclear advocacy talks, I generally speak to adult audiences. That seems to be changing.

A few weeks ago, a high school assistant principal found me on the web. This has turned into an opportunity for one of the Energy Education Project supporters (a nuclear engineer who lives near that high school) to give a talk at the high school. Then another high school teacher contacted me. That contact has become an opportunity for Howard Shaffer and me. We be talking to social studies and chemistry classes at that school.

Two days ago, a high school student from one of the Vermont Academy high schools contacted me. He wanted some help in putting together a senior project about nuclear energy. The project will be presented to the entire school.

At that point, I cried "Help!" to my American Nuclear Society Listserve, asking for information about high school curriculum materials for nuclear energy. As I expected, some very knowledgeable people led me to good resources. I am using this blog post to share the information.

Nuclear Energy Resources for High Schools

Department of Energy

A prime resource on the web is at the Department of Energy site for teachers:

This has activities, fact sheets, and brochures on nuclear power plant safety.

My evaluation: Great stuff, but you are going to have to hunt through it. Lots of good material, but uneven.

National Nuclear Science Week

Nuclear Science Week is January 23 through 27. and has a terrific website:

This includes activities and downloads:

One of my favorite parts of the website is the day by day set of resources with links and video clips:

My evaluation: This site is rich, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. It can be used even if your school is not participating in Nuclear Science Week.

Energy Solutions and Power Path

Energy Solutions Foundation pioneered a curriculum for nuclear energy. This material is part of the Power Path curriculum developed by Entergy, Areva and others.

The Power Path site includes games, information, fact sheets, activities, and debate points for high school debaters. Power Path is truly a curriculum. Much is downloadable, other parts of the curriculum can be attained by emailing

The Power Path Curriculum is available and approved for use in several states.

My Evaluation: Power Path is excellent. It seems to be the most complete and organized of nuclear energy resources for high schools. I recommend it highly,

No, I am not just saying this because Entergy owns Vermont Yankee and is also a sponsor of Power Path! I am saying it because people on my ANS Listserve have used Power Path materials in their children's schools, and they said the materials were great. Of all the resources I have listed in this post, this is the only one for which I have user-feedback.

Facts on File Books

Facts on File (a publisher) is coming out with a series of six books about nuclear energy.

The book titles include:
  • Radiation
  • History of Nuclear Power
  • Nuclear Accidents and Disaster

The books are meant for high school and college libraries. Some books available now; some will be available early next year.

My Evaluation: I haven't read these books, and they are pretty pricey at $45 each. However, all the books are written by James Mahaffey, a Ph.D. who wrote the excellent book Atomic Awakening. That book is on my Kindle, and it is clear, authoritative, and amusing. I expect these books are also excellent.


There are many resources available for talking and teaching about nuclear energy in high schools. I hope my readers will add even more, in the comment section.


Afterword: Academies in Vermont. In the mind-1800s in Vermont, many Academies were founded as private secondary schools. Later, when the Vermont townships decided to provide secondary education for everyone, the Academies were already in place. The townships chose to provide tuition vouchers for the Academies rather than set up rival and redundant schools. Nowadays, the Academies take tuition vouchers from local school districts, and they also take private paying students. They are usually still private schools (sort of). The Academies have long traditions and high standards, and are very Vermont. I decided to illustrate this post with graphics of two of the Academies.

1 comment:

Jaro Franta said...

Teachers may also find my "Energy and radiation" powerpoint slides useful.
The text is a mix of English and French, but is easily edited to suit.
Download the 21MB file at:​11686324/​Energy_and_radiation_remix_​2011.pptx