Corporate Classroom II: Science

Who needs school when the World Wide Web brings industrial-strength learning to your desktop?


This week’s lesson: Science
Brought to you by The American Nuclear Society

The American Nuclear Society publishes a variety of educational materials for children, including the charming activity book, “Let’s Color and Do Activities with THE ATOMS FAMILY.” Using mazes, word puzzles, and do-it-yourself science experiments, the ANS sets out to teach its K-5 grade readers “what an atom is, how a nuclear plant makes electricity and how radiation is used.”

The scientific facts presented by the ANS check out, according to Jasmina Vujic, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley — but the pictures reflect a clear pro-nuclear energy stance.

The booklet is adorned with the smiling faces of mom, dad, brother, and sister atom (each accessorized with bow tie or hair bow, as gender-appropriate), who “stay close, like a family.” These friendly characters pop up everywhere: on a nuclear power plant, a hospital bed, even shining in the sky like the sun.

Mom Atom Visual and verbal cues link nuclear power to nature throughout. Atoms are compared to grains of sand on the beach, smiling fish are shown swimming in the water being pumped to a power plant, and a page entitled “Radiation also is all around us” shows a bucolic homestead surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables. A nuclear power plant is even compared to the human body — with the nuclear reactor as its heart.

Radiation too is shown as a friendly force which brings electricity to our homes, treats and diagnoses illnesses, and is essential in making smoke detectors, sodas, and non-stick frypans.

By the time they’re done with this activity book, kids’ll love nuclear power plants so much they’ll want to make their own!