Mini-Project 1 – Topics & Goals

Virtual Science Challenge

Mini-Project 1

Download the instructions for Mini-Project 1

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)


Evaluation Criteria

  1. The mini-project demonstrates original creative work by the student team and no evidence of plagiarized material.
  2. The mini-project uses relevant resources, both suggested by the CNS team and researched by the student team.
  3. The mini-project communicates good knowledge of the project topic clearly and concisely.
  4. It is clear what is opinion and what is fact. Data is unbiased and matches the conclusion.
  5. Sources are appropriately cited.
  6. Each student on the team provided ideas and contributed work to the final product.
  7. The group worked as a team, listened to each other, and showed respect for each other’s ideas.
  8. The mini-project shows critical thinking, a new application of the knowledge, or higher-level thinking skills—not just reiteration of the lesson materials.
  9. The mini-project uses visual materials and/or audio to communicate what was learned.
  10. 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).
  11. The mini-project is well-developed and well-organized with attention to visual neatness, detail and accuracy.
  12. Visuals relate to the mini-project topic, data is neatly displayed.

Sample presentation tools and ideas:

  • PowerPoint with voiceover
  • Video
  • Build a model and videotape a demonstration
  • Example:
  • Website
  • Blog (visual blog; remember this is not a writing assignment)
  • Photostory
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Voicethread
  • 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