Reflection: Real World Applications Nuclear Research Project: Grounding the Research - Section 5: Application


Some of the Possible Research Topics that my colleagues and I created are based on our awareness of world affairs. For example, question 5 asks “How do nuclear power plants relate to nuclear weapons?” For students who were fascinated by the first lesson in this unit, this was a popular choice. However, in speaking with the students, I realize that many of them do not know anything about this topic. I put this in the list because Iran’s quest for nuclear power and possibly nuclear weapons is a news story I follow regularly. This is not true for my students.

The same might be said of the question “How does the environmental movement view nuclear power?” which is a subtopic of question 11. Most students have little to no knowledge of the environmental community, and have even less knowledge about how the environmental movement has gradually become more divided on the subject of nuclear power.

With this in mind, I have found it really important to contextualize the research questions for students. Giving them the big picture, rather like I have spelled out in the previous two paragraphs, and helping students know some of the search terms that will make their research possible, feels like a nice way to introduce them to myriad real world connections, while providing them with the scaffolding they need in order to be successful in their research projects.

  Real World Applications: Broadening the Landscape
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Nuclear Research Project: Grounding the Research

Unit 9: Nuclear Chemistry
Lesson 3 of 13

Objective: Students will be able to explain how a nuclear power plant works and how this knowledge relates to their research question.

Big Idea: Nuclear power plants rely on fission to generate the heat used to create the steam that drives a turbine.

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  60 minutes
nuclear power
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