The focus of this course are the scientific, technological, and societal implications arising from nuclear physics. Students have an opportunity to explore, in-depth, a topic that has played a major role in the science, technology, politics, philosophy, and everyday life of the past century. The student's primary goal during the course is to answer the question: "What should an informed citizen know about nuclear issues?" The student has some flexibility choosing the areas they wish to concentrate on.
The science topics in the course include the history of discovery, types of nuclear reactions, interactions between radiation and matter, the standard model of subatomic matter and current research. Although some math is used to provide better understanding of the concepts covered, math problems are not the primary focus of the course.
The technology portion includes the design and function of particle detectors, particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, nuclear bombs and nuclear waste facilities. Current and future uses of radiation in industry and medicine are also investigated.
The society portion of the course is the one where many students concentrate their efforts. The weekly discussions on controversial nuclear topics are always interesting. They provide opportunities to look back at the politics behind weapons development and use, the Cold War, nuclear proliferation, and the atomic energy industry. Discussions during the course will include topics that have made recent headlines; such as food irradiation, nuclear reactors in space, Radon mitigation, the demise of the Super-Conducting Super-Collider, the theft of nuclear secrets, and nuclear test ban treaties.
The student should have a basic understanding of atomic structure and have some experience with graphing calculators.
Learning Objectives: Students will:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of radioactive decay, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
2. Research and discuss the history of nuclear discoveries.
3. Describe the standard model of subatomic matter.
4. Report on current research at worldwide nuclear research facilities.
5. Participate in on-line research and data analysis
6. Explain the design and function of devices that make use of nuclear reactions.
7. Use scientific principles in discussions of future nuclear technologies.
8. Use research data to do risk assessments and cost assessments.
9. Research and report on the politics of nuclear advancements.
10. Participate in open-minded debates on the benefits and costs related to current nuclear applications.
11. Develop skills in the use of graphing calculators.
12. Help determine topics that should be included in high school science curricula.
Science - Physical Science
10, 11, 12, 13
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AdvancED, Certified by NCAA for initial-eligibility (VHS School Code: 221356), Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools