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ReActions – August 2016

Janice HeadshotHappy New Year! New school year, that is. In this issue, we’ve got some fresh ideas and activities for you to take advantage of the excitement that the first days of school bring.  Then keep the enthusiasm in your classroom high by starting a STEM Club or building a nuclear reactor for Nuclear Science Week in October. There are new things for you online, too! So, welcome back and let us know how we can help you throughout the school year.

Janice Lindegard

August 1, 2016 Volume -38
Featured Highlight

Happy New Year!

Ideas and inspiration to kick off the new school year.

Latest News

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform right now. While new users are jumping on the boards, teachers have been passionate pinners for years. That’s why ANS has developed a series of Pinterest boards that make it easy for educators to find ideas and inspiration for teaching about nuclear science and technology.

There are currently 11 boards in our collection. “Get to Know Nuclear” brings you lesson plans, information, and graphics related to nuclear chemistry basics. “Radiation Teaching Activities” features activities and lesson plans on radiation science, while “Detecting Radiation” provides links to radiation detection information on our website. “Our Radioactive World” explores natural and man-made sources of radiation and includes a link to our popular interactive radiation dose calculator.

In “Nuclear Energy,” you’ll find a variety of resources, from how a nuclear reactor produces electricity to nuclear’s value as a carbon-free fuel. There are also boards on careers in nuclear science, nuclear medicine, STEM ideas and activities, cross-curricular topics, and basic chemistry.

We’re not just providing pins to our own resources; we’re on the hunt daily for information on all topics nuclear. Periodic tables, energy mix infographics, video interviews with nuclear engineers and environmentalists, illustrated explanations of nuclear fission—we’ve got a wealth of resources to pin to your own boards. Let us know what else you’d like to see!

Nuclear Science Week—an annual international event celebrating all aspects of nuclear science—will be held October 17-21, 2016. It’s an ideal time to demonstrate your STEM club’s achievements, or challenge your students to something new. A robotic model of a nuclear reactor core, created by ANS member William Gurecky, combines coding, engineering, robotics, and design into a project that is both fun and challenging to create. It’s not too late to build your own reactor to unveil during NSW.

Gurecky’s model is a LEGO® brick structure that he created to explain to middle- and high school students how a nuclear reactor core works. The model is programmed to raise and lower the reactor’s control rods, change the coolant flow, and set the model to operate at a target power output. It will even perform an emergency shutdown, called a SCRAM, if it begins to get too hot, just as a real nuclear reactor would.

Files necessary for generating the design in LEGO’s free Digital Designer software, connecting the electronics, and programming the control board are located at You’ll also need Python, a free programming language, to program the model’s operation; Gurecky suggests operating the reactor on a computer with Linux OS installed. Digital Designer will generate instructions for building the LEGO structure, and some analytical skills will be needed to complete the reactor’s mechanical systems.

While Nuclear Science Week is a great excuse to build the robotic reactor, it makes a stimulating team project any time of year. Gurecky welcomes requests for assistance and clarification. You can contact him through ANS at

The new school year means getting back to after-school activities, including STEM Club. Complementing the curriculum, these clubs skip the tests and grades to build student interest in STEM topics in a fun, relaxed environment. And, research has shown that STEM clubs can help students perform better in class, have improved understanding of STEM careers, and be more likely to graduate.

ANS can be a valuable resource in programming your club activities, whether you’re just starting up or are well-established. Not only do we offer a wealth of information and activities for exploring nuclear science and technology at, but our diverse membership can be a rich source of information. Many ANS members visit schools for events such as career days and science fairs; others welcome students to tour local facilities, including power plants, research labs, and nuclear medicine laboratories. Some sponsor local STEM clubs and teams. The ANS Robotics and Remote Systems Division, for example, sponsors one or two robotics teams each year. In 2016, the division sponsored the Hardin Valley Academy RoHawktics robotics team. Their robot, Stronghold, won numerous awards.

You can locate ANS local or student sections near you on our website. You’ll find links to the professional divisions there as well.

If your school doesn’t have a STEM club, there are guides full of advice and ideas to get you started. Two of our favorites are Stemnet’s Stem Clubs Step-by-step Guide, and Starting A Club from the Arizona STEM Network.

If you’ve had your eye on any of  ANS’s classroom resources–such as our Isotope Discovery Kit–your ANS local section may help. Through the George A. Ferguson Motivational Grants (GAFMG), the ANS Nuclear Engineering Education for the Disadvantaged Committee provides grants that serve any school serving kindergarten through high school students in the United States. You can find your nearest ANS  local section on our website.

Grant funds may be used to purchase resources to teach science and math. Included are equipment and materials, as well as tours to nuclear power plants and other nuclear-related facilities. Recipients may receive one grant per year.  The limit for a single grant is $5,000.

The project receiving a grant must be completed within 12 months after an award is granted, and a program report must be submitted to the NEED Committee within two months after completion.
Deadline: October 1 – funding available by December 1
Download Application form

For more information please contact:
Julie Ezold at

November 5, 2016 Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, NV

Join ANS for a full-day exploration of nuclear and radiation science. You’ll work alongside our nuclear professionals gaining knowledge and inspiration that will leave you ready to engage your students about learning nuclear science. Every participant receives the ANS Teacher Resource Guide full of interactive lessons aligned to NGSS standards as well as a FREE Geiger counter to take back to their classroom.

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Sign up for ReActions™, the e-newsletter for educators that offers teaching ideas about nuclear science and technology. It is published by the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information, an initiative of the American Nuclear Society, between September and May.

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