Skip Navigation

Teachers visit ORAU for Harnessed Atom workshop

Twelve teachers from across the United States test the new Harnessed Atom curriculum in ORAU's Center for Science Education

August 4, 2011

Teachers test new Harnessed Atom curriculum in ORAU's Center for Science Education

Teachers use a cloud chamber to view trails of alpha and beta emissions during a test of the new Harnessed Atom curriculum in ORAU's Center for Science Education.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Twelve teachers from across the United States were given the opportunity to "test drive" the new proposed Harnessed Atom science curriculum last week at Oak Ridge Associated Universities' Center for Science Education.

The educators served in a focus group where they reviewed the proposed materials and provided input on the proposed lesson plans and hands-on activities. In doing so, they are helping design what could be coming to science classrooms across the nation.

Developed in 1986 by the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy and designed for grades six through eight, the Harnessed Atom curriculum was created to help teachers educate students on the subject of nuclear energy.

Twenty years later, ORAU is partnering with the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy and Science Applications International Corporation to update the Harnessed Atom curriculum. The new curriculum is expanding its scope to now include lesson plans for high school students. Additionally, the updated reading materials and hand-on activities are designed to build the connection between nuclear power and other energy sources.

"As curriculum standards change, it is even more important to insure that teachers have input into curricula design and teaching strategies," stated Marie Westfall, science education group manager for ORAU. "Classroom teachers provide a unique and valuable perspective that guarantees the materials and activities meet standards and individual learning needs."

In order to expand their knowledge of green energy sources, participants were given the opportunity to visit many local sites specializing in energy such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm, and the Coal Creek Company.

Results from the focus group will aid in DOE's review of the curriculum. Educators are hoping the finished curriculum will be released in the spring of 2012.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Work: 865.576.0028
Cell: 865.207.7953