On January 21, 2017, 20 volunteers from the local chapters of Women In Nuclear (WIN), North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN), and the American Nuclear Society (ANS) arrived at Cantera to prepare for the annual Atomic Fission Fun Girl Scout Badge event. These individuals, who hailed from different companies and different backgrounds in the nuclear field, helped themselves to some coffee and got to work preparing for the arrival of the Girl Scouts. In less than two hours, the lobby would be swarming with almost 100 young women in grades 4-8 along with their parents, all of whom had signed up for a day of fun activities geared toward earning the “Girl Scouts Get To Know Nuclear” badge.
To start their day, the girls watched a Bill Nye the Science Guy video to introduce them to the basics of atomic science. After the video, the girls broke into groups and rotated through four different stations. The scouts worked with Geiger counters and got to see a cloud chamber in action, used balloons to model fission reactions, put on lab coats to act as scientists and learn about medical uses of radiation, practiced dressing out to learn how it is to work in a nuclear power plant, and learned about the history of women scientists in the nuclear industry while decorating goodie bags with a diagram of the atom of their choice.
After several hours of having their minds filled with nuclear knowledge, the girls faced one final test: the finale. The finale involved a series of questions about the information they had gathered throughout the day, which they answered anonymously using clickers. It was a final trial for them to see how much they had learned, and, as it turned out, they had learned quite a bit. After the finale, the girls picked up their goodie bags – which had been filled with a variety of outreach materials courtesy of Exelon and the ANS– and headed home with some keepsakes to remind them of the Saturday morning they had spent learning about nuclear power.
For the first time, this annual event was co-sponsored by WIN, NAYGN, and ANS. Volunteers included employees and retirees of Exelon, Sargent & Lundy, Argonne National Labs, and ANS, all with varied backgrounds and experiences. The enthusiasm of the volunteers made a big impact on the scouts and their parents. Throughout the day, several of the parents took the opportunity to ask questions about nuclear power- its safety and role in our energy policy. This event shows the powerful impact of bringing together different nuclear advocacy groups to work together in providing outreach to the community.