Mini-Project 1 – Topics & Goals
Virtual Science Challenge
Purpose: Students demonstrate their knowledge of Topics 1 and 2 through a collaborative team project that conveys an understanding of basic nuclear physics and some aspect of nuclear energy (see sample projects, below).
Format: This project should visually depict some aspect of nuclear energy—this is not a writing assignment. Think in terms of images with some or no text. You may write a script, but deliver it verbally, not in written form.
Evaluation Criteria: Each team mini-project will be evaluated by a CNS content expert. The evaluation criteria are listed below. Projects will be evaluated on how well they meet each criterion on a scale of 1-5:
1 (did not meet)
2 (somewhat met)
3 (just met)
4 (met very well)
5 (met exceedingly well)
- The mini-project demonstrates original creative work by the student team and no evidence of plagiarized material.
- The mini-project uses relevant resources, both suggested by the CNS team and researched by the student team.
- The mini-project communicates good knowledge of the project topic clearly and concisely.
- It is clear what is opinion and what is fact. Data is unbiased and matches the conclusion.
- Sources are appropriately cited.
- Each student on the team provided ideas and contributed work to the final product.
- The group worked as a team, listened to each other, and showed respect for each other’s ideas.
- The mini-project shows critical thinking, a new application of the knowledge, or higher-level thinking skills—not just reiteration of the lesson materials.
- The mini-project uses visual materials and/or audio to communicate what was learned.
- All the objectives of the mini-project have been met (either from the list of sample projects or those developed jointly with a teacher and mentor).
- The mini-project is well-developed and well-organized with attention to visual neatness, detail and accuracy.
- Visuals relate to the mini-project topic, data is neatly displayed.
Sample presentation tools and ideas:
- PowerPoint with voiceover
- Build a model and videotape a demonstration
- Blog (visual blog; remember this is not a writing assignment)
- Digital Storytelling
- Create a game
Sample Project Ideas
- You may choose ONE of the following project ideas.
- Each suggested project is followed by mandatory content.
- If you have a different idea, submit it to your mentor for approval before you begin work.
A nuclear chain reaction inside a reactor and the behavior of elements and isotopes
– How a nuclear chain reaction works
– The elements/isotopes involved and what they do
– How the neutrons released during a fissionable reaction can sustain a chain reaction
– The role of the moderator
Radioactive isotopes and their health effects
– Isotopes released in a radioactive accident
– Isotopes used in nuclear medicine
– The health effects of isotopes that are of the most concern in a radioactive accident
– The health effects of isotopes used in nuclear medicine
How moderators slow down nuclear fission to make a sustained chain reaction possible
– How a chain reaction works
– Difference between sustained and uncontrolled chain reaction
– An explanation of different moderators
– How moderators slow down the fission process
– The chemistry involved and what happens
Uranium enrichment by gas centrifuge
– Why uranium is enriched to create a fuel
– The chemistry involved
– How a gas centrifuge works
– The basic design of a centrifuge plant
Benefits and risks of peaceful uses of nuclear technology (e.g., nuclear power, nuclear medicine)
– What peaceful uses of nuclear technology are
– The benefits and risks
– The chemistry involved
– Health risks involved
Basic types of enrichment: gaseous diffusion, gas centrifuge, laser separation
– Compare different types of enrichment
– How they work and the chemistry involved
– What the proliferation implications are of each type
Controlled and uncontrolled chain reaction
– The difference between a controlled and uncontrolled chain reaction
– How the different reactions are used
– Basic design of nuclear power plant: PWR, BWR, fast reactor
– Basic designs of nuclear weapons: gun-type, implosion type