July 2000 Science Teacher Workshop

  • Downloadable powerpoint presentation of pictures from July 2000 workshop. (4mb, uncompressed) Download Now!

Article submitted to Health Physics Newsletter on July 2000 workshop:

I'm Radioactive, Are You?

Workshop presented to fifteen 4th to 8th grade science teachers

Members of the New Jersey Chapter coordinated the classroom presentations, classroom exercises and the tour of a research lab for this July 24-27, 2000 workshop in West Windsor, NJ, BUT WERE NOT THE PRESENTERS.

In keeping with its goal of educating the public regarding LLRW, the New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting Board through the staff at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection contracted four middle and high school science teachers. These teachers undertook independent study of radioactive sources and uses of ionizing radiation and presented this information to their peers. NJDEP staff provided support material.

The 3 and a half day workshop was attended by fifteen 4th to 8th grade NJ science teachers. Theory from atomic structure to uses of radioactive material was presented, followed by hands-on demonstrations. Most demonstrations used materials such as paper, cups, balls, scissors and string that can easily be obtained from a school stockroom. Songs about the atom and nuclear transformations were included in these demonstrations.

Technical staff from the NJDEP was always on hand to edit presentations and answer technical questions. The four middle and high school science teachers, who were the main presenters, received their specific knowledge of the uses of radioactive materials only months before.

Was it worth training the presenters who never had a radiation physics course and never completed an exposure and contamination survey? Would it have been more efficient and effective to have technical staff make the presentations? Our experience showed that some middle school teachers feel comfortable learning in a classroom taught by fellow middle school teachers - teachers who know how to reach the minds of 9 to 14 year olds.

Should we only present these topics to high school teachers who know much of the subject matter? Our experience showed that the target audience should include teachers who mold the minds of young boys and girls with VERY basic concepts in an atmosphere of song and games. Since attitudes are shaped at a very early age, teaching proper respect and dispelling inappropriate fear for the natural and man-made sources of radiation must take place at the elementary level.

Kudos to the Grover Middle School for hosting the workshop, to Bristol-Myers Squibb for hosting the half day tour and to the Siting Board for sponsoring the event.

tony.jpg (34326 bytes) Sandy.jpg (15233 bytes)
Presenter/teacher transmits the newly acquired knowledge of radiation detection equipment to his fellow science teachers.
A song and dance way to make atomic structure less boring (sorry I left out the h).



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