In a nuclear power plant, the process of nuclear fission results in the production of large amounts of heat. The heat is then used to produce steam that can turn a turbine to generate electricity. One issue surrounding nuclear power is what to do with the spent nuclear fuel which is still radioactive.

Box 1 (pages 3, 4 and 5) in the report "Strategy options for the UK's separated plutonium" outlines the nuclear processes and their implications.

You can download just the text from Box 1 here.

The class can be split into 6 groups or students could be given one of the paragraphs to work on individually as homework. The format of presentations depend on the resources and time available, some examples are: a poster, a song, a presentation, a news bulletin, a video etc.


Curriculum links

Communication skills 3c. present information, develop an argument and draw a conclusion, using scientific, technical and mathematical language, conventions and symbols and ICT tools.

Energy, electricity and radiations

In their study of science, the following should be covered:

7a. energy transfers can be measured and their efficiency calculated, which is important in considering the economic costs and environmental effects of energy use.
7c. radiations, including ionising radiations, can transfer energy d radiations in the form of waves can be used for communication.


Scottish Curriculum

Science - Curriculum for Excellence level 4 SCN 4-11b. Forces, electricity and waves - Vibrations and waves: By carrying out a comparison of the properties of parts of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond the visible, I can explain the use of radiation and discuss how this has impacted upon society and our quality of life
SCN 4-20a. Topical Science: I have researched new developments in science and can explain how their current or future applications might impact on modern life.

Chemistry National 4 & 5

Potentially relevant to modules: Chemistry in Society (energy sources)
Environmental Science National 4 & 5 Potentially relevant to modules: Sustainability (energy and waste management), Earth's resources (Earth's materials).
Physics National 4 & 5 Potentially relevant to modules: Energy (heat and electricity)
Science National 4 Potentially relevant to modules: Fragile Earth (metal extraction, environmental issues)

The nuclear process

nuclear power plant_300For this activity you need Box 1 from the report "Strategy options for the UK's separated plutonium".

Depending on the number of people, split into up to 6 groups with 3-6 people in each group. Each group should take one paragraph from Box 1 in the report. In your group summarise the paragraph and explain it to the rest of the class.

The way you present the information is up to you!

If there are less than six groups, some groups should have more than one paragraph to summarise.

The paragraphs are:

  1. Plutonium production
  2. Types of nuclear power reactor
  3. Nuclear fuel cycle
  4. Radioactivity
  5. Nuclear waste
  6. Weapons-grade and reactor-grade plutonium