Do we really need nuclear power plants?

Author: Mladen Sljivovic

Why do I like games in the classroom and why do I hate them at the same time? Well, to start with, games are fun, they keep your mind focused, and are something students will always remember. On the other hand, there are not so many STEM games that are just perfect for the class, and most of them rather focus on completely other things than STEM. What we mostly forget is that STEM lessons should have educational values on the first place, and at the same time be fun and motivating. So when I discovered Android game Nuclear INC 2 you can only guess how excited I was.

Screenshot from the game

For years I have been looking for a game that would be educational and motivate students to search for more answers. And this is why I like this game. In Nuclear INC 2 you take control over a nuclear power plant. You try to create as much energy as you can (to earn money) and at the same time avoiding nuclear meltdowns (for obvious reasons). And you do it by controlling uranium roads and cooling system. All parameters are here, core temperature, pressure, turbine temperature, radiation level… Too low temperature and you will not produce enough energy, too high and the pressure might be too big for the reactor.

Basically, this is what I would teach my students in a class, as nuclear power plants are one of the lessons in physics curriculum, only this time I can have my students play and search the answers themselves. All they would need is a little bit of guidance.

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Diffraction and interference around us

For years and years this has been my least favorite part of school’s curriculum. Too much messy drawing on the board, too much mathematical formulas, and from student’s point of view this was just empty talk. I naturally tried and tried to explain this to my students as best as I could, but even with experiments, that I could demonstrate during the class, I’ve felt that my students been missing the point. They would just try to memorise whole thing without any critical thinking, and let’s face it, what kind of a teacher would I be to let that happen? Most of my colleagues agreed that this is not an easy part of curriculum which it’s hard to be understood even by older students at faculties, and that it is meant only for top of class.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this was unnecessary part of school’s curriculum. This is fundamental part of physics. This was one of the first mistakes made by Newton. And shockingly this is where quantum mechanics starts (thank you Feynman). So I really needed to help my students learn more about this, but how?

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