Annual national celebration places focus on nuclear science, careers and education

NSW-logoLast week, Duke Energy hosted a series of local events in communities around the company’s six nuclear plants. More than 125 nuclear professionals across the company’s nuclear fleet met with hundreds of students to give them a lesson on nuclear power as part of National Nuclear Science Week – a national, broadly observed week-long celebration to focus local, regional and national interests on all aspects of nuclear science.

Teammates flocked to local schools while others welcomed homeschoolers to their site’s energy education centers, where outreach efforts ranged from interactive presentations and hands-on activities. Several of the events were orchestrated by the site’s North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) and Women in Nuclear (WIN) groups.

Curious to know what went on during National Nuclear Science Week? Below are some key outreach efforts held during the week-long celebration:

  • Brunswick Nuclear Plant:Brunswick’s nuclear teammates hit the ground running last week by hosting a National Nuclear Science Week fair at six local schools. Nearly 85 volunteers met with more than 2,000 students to help spark awareness about nuclear science. Students were able to spend about 30 minutes visiting different stations including a robotics demonstration, learning about the anatomy of an atom and participating in a “nuclear dance” as a way of learning how a boiling water reactor works.
  • McGuire Nuclear Station: 80 Boy Scouts visited the EnergyExplorium, McGuire’s education center, to earn their nuclear science merit badge. Scouts were able to see and touch models of a turbine, generator and fuel assembly as they learned about nuclear power.A nuclear science day was also planned for nearly 125 homeschool students. Members of Duke Energy’s NA-YGN partnered with the American Nuclear Society and led a presentation focusing on nuclear power; a participated on a career panel answering questions about their background, skills and education. Students also participated in hands-on, interactive activities including a demonstration on radioactive half-life using M&Ms.
  • Harris Nuclear Plant:Students from a local college were led on a site driving tour, while a group of realtors participated in a lunch and learn at the site’s energy education center hosted by WIN. A member of Harris’ WIN group also visited a local school and met with middle schools science teachers and female students to lead a nuclear science program.
  • Catawba Nuclear Station: The site welcomed nearly 100 members of the homeschool community for a nuclear science day. Students participated in five sessions during the event, including a nuclear dress out activity. Families also learned about half-life and radiation decay, the various types of careers at a nuclear plant, how the plant makes electricity and participated in nuclear trivia. 24 volunteers from Catawba helped to make the event a huge success.
  • Robinson Nuclear Station: Robinson teammates gave 12 presentations to five local schools. Approximately 607 students were able to learn more about nuclear energy, nuclear careers and the success paths Robinson employees took to get where they are now.
  • Oconee Nuclear Station: Teammates from Oconee participated in the “Bite of Science” at Clemson University, a workshop designed to improve teacher’s ability to provide students a context of how science is applied in the real world and inspire students to pursue careers of excellence and leadership in STEM. The World of Energy, Oconee’s energy education center, offered a tour of the site’s control room simulator to 55 students from Furman University, hosted a homeschool day and delivered six presentations to local high school and elementary school students.

Duke Energy places a year-round focus on education at all of its nuclear plants across North and South Carolina. The company reaches thousands of students and teachers each year through an extensive public education and community outreach program.

Harris Nuclear knows a healthy forest takes work

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the natural environments around Duke Energy’s nuclear facilities and what Duke Energy is doing to enhance those areas.

Forestry 1

A Duke Energy employee works to beautify the area around Harris Nuclear. You can see the site’s cooling tower in the background.

Located on more than 30,000 acres of land, 20,000 of which are available for public use, the Harris Nuclear Plant is surrounded by a lush forest. While there is an enormous amount of natural beauty in the region, the thick woods around Harris are no coincidence.

Each year between January and mid-March, it’s common to see tree planters renewing Duke Energy’s forest around the Harris Nuclear Plant. This year the site will reforest roughly 475 acres around the Harris site or about two percent of the land Duke Energy owns.

Trees are planted on an 8- by 10-foot grid resulting in roughly 545 trees per acre. This year alone, forestry crews planted more than 250,000 seedlings on lands adjoining the Harris Plant. This is more trees than were harvested.

The planted seedlings will grow and fully occupy the site in 12 to 15 years. The young trees will begin to compete against each other for soil, water and nutrients. When trees compete for resources, they become stressed and are candidates for natural mortality and pine beetle infestations.

Harris trees

More than 250,000 trees were planted around Harris Nuclear in 2014.

Trees showing poor growth are sold and harvested, allowing the residual trees to continue growing into higher-valued products. Duke Energy participates with the North Carolina State University Cooperative Tree Improvement Program (NCTIP) through American Forest Management (AFM). Extensive research is conducted to breed desirable tree and wood characteristics. Once the best seed is selected, the seedlings are grown in a tree nursery specifically for Duke Energy. By selecting those tree families that have been shown to grow faster, straighter and disease-resistant, the health of the forest is improved overall.

A healthy forest does not happen by accident, it requires hard work and a dedication to beautifying the land and improving natural environments. This is just one example of the good environmental stewardship that is being shown in the Duke Energy nuclear fleet.

Duke Energy donates school supplies to help kick-off the school year

With school back in session, Duke Energy’s nuclear sites are helping needy elementary and middle school students start the year off right with loads of school supplies. Across the fleet, sites sponsored back to school supply drives in an effort to help local schools and organizations in each of their areas.

Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, N.C. donated 370 book bags filled with pencils, paper, file folders, crayons, erasers and pencil boxes. In addition to school supplies, Harris teammates donated $500 worth of cleaning supplies, including disinfectant wipes and tissues. Five area schools benefitted from Harris’ overwhelming support.

In Hartsville, S.C., 12 area elementary schools benefitted from the donations from Robinson Nuclear Plant. This year, teammates donated 386 stuffed book bags and $1,000 towards general school supplies. Each book bag was packed with pencils, paper, crayons, rulers and other school supplies.

The Women in Nuclear (WIN) group at the Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C. collected supplies to benefit children in the care of the Oconee Department of Social Services. Teammates donated more than $600 and five boxes worth of school supplies.

Teammates at Catawba Nuclear Station in York, S.C. collected approximately 200 backpacks to donate to local schools. While sister site, McGuire Nuclear Station, near Charlotte, N.C. just wrapped up its month long school supply drive. Their efforts yielded a van full of book bags, lunch boxes and supplies to benefit an area elementary school.

This is just one of many collection drives Duke Energy nuclear teammates participate in as part of their willingness to give back to the communities where they live and work.