the students if they have ever been in a dust storm or
seen a sand storm
in a documentary on television or a
movie (examples: “The Mummy” or “Hidalgo”).
the students discuss the wind direction and the velocity
of the wind
would affect the way the dust moves.
Ask what else might affect the way the dust is moved. (The
size of the dust particle makes a difference on how far it
is carried by the wind.) One big difference between a sand
storm and radiation that is being carried by the wind is
that you can see the sand being blown; you can’t see
the radiation, but it’s there. When the reactor at
Chernobyl exploded, it released clouds of radioactive materials
that were carried by winds all around the Northern hemisphere.
(See Figure 1 at http://www.llnl.gov/str/Robison.html) If the students
are doing the 9th grade science lesson, Fallout! in the From
Global to City Air unit, they will actually be finding locations
in the northern hemisphere where radiation levels increased
due to winds carrying radiation from Chernobyl. Another map
showing the areas in Europe contaminated by radioactive fallout
from Chernobyl can be found at http://www.dhushara.com/book/explod/cher/cher.htm
areas affected by the radioactive fallout in Belarus, Ukraine,
were particularly large due to the high
altitude and the long duration,10 days, of the release as
well as the changing wind directions. “Hot spots” or
areas of significant deposition occurred where the passage
of the plume coincided with rainfall, especially in the Belarus,
which received over 70% of the fallout. Put up the Hot Spots
overhead to show the heavily irradiated areas caused by the
fallout from Chernobyl. (Source: http://www.brama.com/ukraine/cbyl.html)
4. Ask the students to discuss what may have caused the
hot spots and why the distribution seems so uneven. (The
direction of the wind and the amount of rainfall in certain
regions caused the radioactive fallout from the radiation
plume released at Chernobyl to be spread out very unevenly
over areas surrounding Chernobyl. The smaller particles were
carried further while the largest particles, primarily fuel
particles, were deposited within 100km of the reactor.)
create a radioactive plume and demonstrate how the wind
it spread out, use a leaf blower with a sufficiently
large “elbow bend” PVC pipe attached to it.
6. Put approximately a cup or more of kool-aid powder into
the PVC pipe. Make sure that you are outside before you turn
on the leaf blower. If you have an open-air plaza, the air
currents should show how some of the particles are carried
by the wind and others seem to drop back down to the ground.
the students that today they are going to create a model
of the Chernobyl
disaster to demonstrate how the
accident had such a horrendous effect of the regions around
the reactor. To show the students the different wind conditions
over the days the radiation was released at Chernobyl, see
the animated figure 12 at http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php?userhash=1652928&navID=15&/ID=2 or put up the Wind Patterns overhead. Ask the students why
there is a 30-km exclusion zone around Chernobyl where nobody
is officially allowed to live.
8. Put up the Map of Regions around Chernobyl overhead and
pass out copies to the students as well. Tell them that the
distance from Chernobyl to Kiev is approximately 80 miles.
Ask them how they can use this information to calculate the
approximate distances from Chernobyl to the other cities
on the sheet.
9. Split the class into groups and have them measure the
distance in centimeters from Chernobyl to the cities on the
map. Put the distances on the board and have the students
put them on the Distances Activity sheet as well.
10. Have the students calculate the distance from Chernobyl
to the other cities by setting up an appropriate proportion,
and solving for the desired distance.
11. Bring in a large piece of white paper (poster board
paper, etc.) and mark the location of Chernobyl, making sure
that there is room to mark the locations of the other cities
as well. Tell the students that they need to come up with
an appropriate scale to show the approximate location of
the other cities on the larger sheet. If you want to be more
accurate, have the students determine the direction angle
from Chernobyl to the city as well as the distance. Have
the students mark the approximate locations of the cities.
12. Using the Wind Patterns overhead, model the spread of
the radioactive fallout by using a hair dryer, different
colors of Kool-Aid, and the marshmallows. Have the students
place the marshmallows on the large map/paper in areas that
they believe will receive fallout. For each wind condition
represented, ask the students where you should stand and
in which direction you should aim the hair dryer. Turn on
the hair dryer and have a volunteer sprinkle the Kool-Aid
in front of the dryer so that the Kool-Aid is blown approximately
in the direction of the wind on that particular day. Repeat
this for each of the days shown, using a different color
of Kool-Aid if possible. (You might want to check with your
janitor before doing this experiment because Kool-Aid is
sweet and will probably attract insects. You may need to
do it outside.)
13. Once all the fallout has
been distributed, ask the students if they could feel or
smell the Kool-Aid even though they were not near the map.
Ask the students how this can be related to the people who
lived in the regions around Chernobyl.
14. Tell the students
that on May 1st every year in the former Soviet Union,
there are huge parades celebrating Workers
of the World Day. On May 1st, 1986, even though the government
officials knew that radioactive fallout was in the air, a
parade was held in Kiev, only 80 miles away from Chernobyl,
with hundreds of children involved. Tell the students that
when a Ukrainian minister was asked shortly after the disaster
occurred how many children who lived downwind of Chernobyl
were safe, he replied, “None.”
15. Have the students look at the marshmallows as well and
ask if they see anything different. (Since the marshmallows
were dry, it should be hard to see the Kool-Aid on them.)
Using a spray bottle with water, spray a fine mist on the
marshmallows and the colors should spring out. Ask how this
could be related to the people who lived downwind of Chernobyl
on each of the days with different wind conditions.
16. Have the students look for hot spots on the map. Ask
what might have caused them and ask what other weather conditions
might lead to hot spots. (Rain or other forms of precipitation).
Ask how they could model this in the experiment the next
By seeing how far an area the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl
covered, the students should begin to realize the seriousness
of the Chernobyl disaster.
Based on UN official reports, up to 9 million people in Belarus,
Ukraine, and Russia have been directly or indirectly affected
by radiation fallout.
1. How are people indirectly affected?
2. You are a farmer who lived downwind of Chernobyl, and
you had been evacuated from the farm that had been in your
family for generations to a city. You know nobody in the
city and have little chance of finding employment. The
government has help programs, but they don’t have
enough funding to help everybody. What would you do?
3. Many forms of cancer take years to appear. You were
born in Kiev and lived there when the Chernobyl accident
You know that you have been exposed to radiation and that
the food brought to market from farmers may have been exposed
to radiation from the air, water, or ground. But you wouldn’t
be able to have the type of life have you have in Kiev if
you move somewhere else. Is it worth staying there and leading
your normal life?
4. Think of a couple more examples of how people might be
directly or indirectly affected.
Students should be assessed during the calculation part of
the lesson on their ability to use proportions to determine
the approximate distances from Chernobyl to different cities.
The discussion following the model “explosions” should
have the students thinking about how Chernobyl has affected
so many people, including those who were not born at the
time of the accident.