The Animating a Nuclear Process Unit will follow units covering Scientific Measurement, the Periodic Table, Atomic and Molecular Structure, and Electron Configurations. All of these units provide necessary and required background knowledge for the successful completion this unit. Students embarking on this unit require an understanding of the basic architecture of the nuclear atom and the mass and charge of subatomic particles. Students require specific knowledge of the periodic table in order to determine the number of protons in an atom's nucleus. Students need to recognize that atoms exist in various forms called isotopes and must already have the capacity to distinguish between such concepts as the average atomic mass and the mass number of an atom. Students must also recognize, prior to the advent of this unit, that particles of opposite charge attract one another. Finally, it is expected that students have already acquired a basic set of math skills that will permit them to calculate percentages and graph a data set on a coordinate plane.
While there is a lot of information front loaded in this unit, it does not detract from the students having to explore a number of essential questions. These questions include, but are not limited to; what is radioactivity? what makes something radioactive? how is half-life determined? how do radioactive emissions occur? what are radioactive particles? what does it mean for an element to transmutate? what is fission? what is fusion? how does nuclear chemistry impact our lives? is nuclear chemistry dangerous? is nuclear chemistry beneficial? what are the hazards associated with living near a nuclear power plant? what are the hazards associated with living near a nuclear waste storage facility? what are the applications of nuclear chemistry in medicine? how does a nuclear weapon generate so much destructive force?
The Animating a Nuclear Process Unit will run approximately six weeks in length. The first three weeks will be spent meeting standard curricula objectives and State of Connecticut Science Standards. The second half of the unit will be spent in an animation lab planning, producing and editing animations, thereby aspiring to the Next Generation of Science Standards (national curricula).