Investigating Nuclear Fusion
Lesson 6 of 7
Objective: SWBAT explain the process of nuclear fusion, including where it occurs naturally through a guided investigation of nuclear fusion.
When gathering materials, you may come across resources that are good enough that they need little to no modification. When searching for resources to teach nuclear fusion I came across CK-12, a website with a ton of tutorials and online quizzes.
Ironically, while looking for something else recently in my internet Favorite place at school, I found that I bookmarked this page years ago, and never went back to it. I am planning this summer to use it to make an online text to incorporate a flipped classroom element next year.
This lesson is taken basically off their site. I generated a PDF from them which had all the readings in it. Additionally, I was able to link to the site so students could view all the videos with headphones in class at their own pace.
This lesson is aligned to the NGSS via 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. Students will use pictures and videos as models to understand how nuclear fusion occurs, in alignment with Science and Engineering Practice 2. The Energy and Matter Cross-Cutting Concept: In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved is present in the fusion pictures and videos as well as the decay equations in the quiz.
This lesson occurs on our 42 minute late start schedule after morning faculty meetings.
When students entered, I passed back their decay series papers from the previous day. I then had them get out something to write with for our Nuclear Decay Quiz.
I had informed the students the day before that they needed to be able to explain what is happening in each type of decay. Today after passing out the quiz, I encouraged them to draw pictures if they felt it would help them.
I gave 1/2 credit if students explained what was happening to the numbers without discussing the particles. Full credit was given for stating that alpha decay lost two protons and two neutrons and beta decay converted a neutron into a proton, while losing an electron.
Some students interpreted the equations as decay chains and made errors based on that. For next year, I would give this quiz prior to doing the decay series, and also number the six equations so they are clearly separate problems.
When students turn in their quiz, I have the Nuclear Fusion packet from CK-12 there for them to pick up. I have highlighters available, and instruct students to go back and log into the computers.
When all students are finished with the quiz, I explain that the last nuclear process to learn is nuclear fusion. I tell them that this resource was outstanding, and that they have two options, to read it on the computer, or to read it on the paper where they can highlight or underline things.
I tell the students that I do want them to use the computer because I expect them to view the videos embedded in the document. I make sure everyone knows their responsibility, and remind them that this is replacing taking notes on the subject from PowerPoint or our 14 year old textbook.
While students are working, I circulate the room to answer questions and help explain what they might not understand from the video. Based on what they have marked in the text, I ask some questions to ensure they are understanding what they are reading, such as:
- "Why is it called fusion?"
- "What is getting fused together?"
- "Where does fusion occur naturally?"
- "Why doesn't fusion occur naturally on Earth?"
- "How have humans used nuclear fusion on Earth?"
When students finish reading and viewing the videos, I have them answer the review questions on the last page. I have the students keep the packet when the period ends.