Nuclear Science Merit Badge

Posted on 2/24/2013 by
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We learned about nuclear science in the Engineering building on the UW-Madison campus.

We talked a lot on the hour long drive to Madison and admired the view of the Capitol building on our way to campus.  When we arrived we found ourselves lost in the wrong building - until a graduate student pointed us in the right direction.

We went to five different experiments and rooms that each taught us something about a different topic in nuclear science.  In the Presentation Hall we went over the topics that we prepared for our homework.  In the next room we saw an experiment involving plasma, the fourth element.  Plasma is made by heating up gases to temperatures higher than that of the sun.  The work room was where we learned about careers available to us in the field of nuclear science.  We also learned about the strength and safety of nuclear power, which is an energy source powerful enough to run an aircraft carrier for 50 years while only stopping twice to recharge.  Safety was taught to us with a video showing a rocket-powered train running into a truck carrying a highly protected container of nuclear waste.  The truck was destroyed, but the container was unharmed.  The counters were a fascinating way to show nuclear energy being measured by a special sensor.  Radioactive M&Ms were an experiment teaching us about the half-life of radioactive particles while giving us a nice treat at the end of the day.

I would recommend the Nuclear Science Merit Badge to anyone interested in learning about chemistry, radiation and how these forces of science affect us in our daily lives.