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Watson College News

Nuclear Science Week Brings 1,500 Students, Community Members to WCE

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Watson College of Education was the venue for the main event of Nuclear Science Week, held Oct. 20-22. More than 1,500 K-12 students and community members participated in NSW events, designed to educate the public on an industry with a significant presence in the Cape Fear region.

The event was sponsored by GE Hitachi and Duke Energy Progress and hosted by the Wilmington Area Local Section of the American Nuclear Society. This is the first time the national event has been held in Wilmington.

“Our mission at WCE is to educate and to support learning in a range of contexts, and we happily offered our building to showcase an educational opportunity like Nuclear Science Week,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “It was an honor to serve as the host location for an event designed to enhance and expand efforts in STEM learning for area children and educators.”

Activities kicked off the morning of Oct. 20 with K-8 workshops. More than 400 students participated in a variety of STEM activities including snap circuits and learning how a power plant works through the nuclear dance. Concurrent with the student workshops, site tours were held at the Duke Energy Progress Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant and the GE Hitachi Nuclear Fuel Plant. Over 100 members of the public joined the tours to learn about the nuclear facilities in their neighborhoods.

On Thursday evening, a reception was held at WCE for members of the American Nuclear Society and local event sponsors including Duke Energy, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Energy Solutions, URENCO USA, Honeywell, National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, North American Young Generation in Nuclear, U.S. Women in Nuclear and UNCW. Friday events included several panel presentations, a Tech Expo and evening movie screenings.

More than 200 high school students joined community members for panel presentations titled Nuclear in Our Community, Clean Air Energy, The Atom in Healthcare and The Many Roles of Nuclear Science & Technology. Featured speakers included Chris Hersman, Mission Systems Engineer for NASA’s New Horizons mission; Ryan Fitzpatrick of the think tank Third Way; Maria Korsnick, Chief Operating Officer and President and CEO-Elect of NEI; and Samantha Hedrick from the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Tech Expo exhibitors included Duke Energy Progress, GE Hitachi, URENCO, Women in Nuclear (WIN), the U.S. Navy, UNCW and the E.P.A. Especially popular were GE Hitachi’s and URENCO’s booths, which featured interactive displays and virtual reality experiences.

The Big Event wrapped up on Saturday with a science teacher workshop, Boy and Girl Scout merit badge awards and public viewing at the Tech Expo.

“The three-day event was successful in engaging the public and educating them on all the benefits and contributions that the nuclear sciences and technologies make in our society,” said Maria Pfeffer, co-chair of the Big Event. “Events like these are important for professionals to participate in and give back to the community. Almost everyone has been positively affected by nuclear technology, from lifesaving medical imaging to the clean air we breathe due to the largest source of clean energy – nuclear power.”

Watch panel sessions from the 2016 Big Event here >

Nuclear Science Week was featured in a UNCW home page story on October 17.

Media Coverage of the Event:

WWAY, Oct. 20: Nuclear Science Week Big Event Happening at UNCW

Greater Wilmington Business Journal, Oct. 19: Going Nuclear for a Few Days in Wilmington