1. As students enter the classroom, have this equation
posted on the board:
Ask them to consider these questions:
a. What type of reaction is this?
b. Why is it giving off energy?
c. What does the law of Conservation of Mass state?
you demonstrate it holding true with this
2. Go over the answers to these questions with the
class. Make sure that students understand the
last one very well.
By adding up the mass on either side of the
equation, you can see that the mass of the products
equals the mass of
the reactants. In fact, you can see that
the number of atoms does not change, so you don’t even have to
look at the actual masses. This is important because of
a common misconception with nuclear energy. Uranium does
not “burn” and disappear in order
to account for the mass loss of a nuclear
reaction. Going over these
questions will keep in mind that this is
NOT what happens for combustion reactions.
There is no mass loss involved.
the handout titled “Relativity.” (It
says Uranium on a Diet on the top) Allow students about
10 minutes to complete it. They will need periodic tables.
4. Go over the handout and explain the results further
as necessary. Answer any questions that students might
5. Have students look at the website labeled fission energy
info, or distribute as a handout. This shows the energy
released from just one atom of uranium being split. Explain
to students that the gamma radiation can give you radiation
- What do they know about radiation sickness?
Why does gamma radiation affect the body?
How do other forms of radiation affect the body?
flash animation can be shown next, although if time is
an issue, skip to the next step. This flash animation
is a cool representation of the fission of an atom of uranium
through the collision of a neutron. If you look closely,
you can see the different products, such as three more
neutrons, two smaller atoms, and three different types
of radiation. Notice the large kinetic energy of the products
right after collision.
last website, titled nuclear chain reaction applet, is
a demonstration of how fast a chain reaction can occur.
This will help students understand how a nuclear reactor
works, and how an accident can occur if these reactions
are not controlled.
Have students fill out an “exit
an explanation of today’s lesson in their own words.
This should include all the information from the objectives,
including what the variables stand for in ,
and how this equation can be used to explain nuclear energy.
also include a description of how a nuclear chain reaction
more in-depth coverage of nuclear chemistry is desired,
an exercise for balancing nuclear reactions could be