What is Fission?
To demonstrate the concept of nuclear fission and its resulting burst of energy to younger students.
Middle school and elementary
Five to ten minutes
- one long balloon
- one pair of scissors
- The teacher will blow up the balloon and tie it closed. (Leave a small amount of room for expansion.) Explain that this balloon represents an atom of uranium.
- Twist the balloon in the center to make two separate air chambers. Hold it with two hands, pinching off both chambers with the fingers.
- Have a student cut the balloon between the two chambers, making two separate balloons. Explain that this is fission, the splitting of one atom into two atoms of smaller size.
- Let both the pieces go. As they fly away explain that this is like the energy released during fission.
- Retrieve both pieces. Ask if these pieces are useful anymore (no, they are not). Explain that these pieces are now like nuclear waste.
Analysis and Results:
Students must write down observations about what the teacher is doing with the balloon as the activity proceeds.
- Have the students write the definitions of:
- an atom of uranium
- nuclear waste
- Have the students discuss the disposal of the nuclear waste.
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