Duke Energy encourages the Carolinas to “get to know nuclear”

Do you have a smoke detector? Have you ever used nonstick cookware? Are you a Duke Energy customer? Chances are you have benefited from nuclear technology and not even realized it. But, you’re not alone.

In 2009, the Smithsonian affiliated National Museum of Nuclear Science & History noticed a lack of public awareness about the important contributions of nuclear science. The museum and its industry partners saw an opportunity to recognize the field and those who work in it by hosting a weeklong, national celebration.

Now held every third week in October, Nuclear Science Week encourages educators, students and community members to “get to know nuclear” through hands-on activities and local events.

If you’ve been following the Nuclear Information Center, you’ve probably seen Duke Energy’s Nuclear Science Week activities from previous years.

This year, Duke Energy is providing a digital toolkit for North Carolina and South Carolina teachers to introduce their students to nuclear science. The toolkit includes nuclear power basics, on-line resources and activities correlated to state education standards.

See how you can get involved in Nuclear Science Week

In addition to offering classroom materials, Duke Energy’s nuclear sites are hosting events in recognition of Nuclear Science Week. Local Boy Scouts will earn their Nuclear Science Merit Badge through activities at McGuire Nuclear Station. Harris Nuclear Plant and Catawba Nuclear Station will host middle school, high school and homeschool students for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.

With support from their North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) and Women in Nuclear (WIN) chapters, Duke Energy employees across the fleet will also reach out to local schools through interactive presentations, STEM activity fairs as well as essay and art contests.

Throughout October, Duke Energy will share nuclear science information on social media, including trivia and nuclear professional profiles. We’re interested in what your class or group will do to celebrate Nuclear Science Week, too.

Whether you’re using one of our resources or your own, share your pictures with us. Just use #nuclearsciweek and tag Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy), Facebook (Duke Energy) and Instagram (@Duke_Energy).

Who says education is boring?

National Hunting and Fishing Day makes education a thrill

“I am so excited to be there, I am so excited to be there, I am SO excited to be there!” was the repetitive (and increasingly louder) chant from a young child in route to the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day at the World of Energy education center at Oconee Nuclear Station.

He wasn’t the only excited guest – more than 1,000 outdoor enthusiasts participated in the event, which included rock wall climbing, lake fishing, kayaking, archery, air rifle shooting and more.

Duke Energy’s World of Energy has hosted South Carolina’s only celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day for nine years because Duke believes that education reaches far beyond the classroom and right into its backyard.

“This event gives people who might be interested in outdoor recreation like hunting or fishing, but don’t have any experience, the opportunity to participate in new experiences that might become lifelong passions,” said Greg Lucas, a representative from one of the event’s sponsors, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

One of the youngest enthusiasts, Nathaniel Watson, brought several stuffed animals – an alligator and a rabbit – as part of his contribution to National Hunting and Fishing Day. He was mesmerized by hundreds of brightly colored preserved butterflies and moths on display. Mickey Taylor brings his display from Georgia every year.

“I’ve traveled as far as Afghanistan to find some of these butterflies, and some of these I’ve found in Clemson,” Taylor said. “Some of these butterflies are more than 50 years old.”

One new exhibit at this year’s event included Cabela’s “Campsite and Water Purification Demonstration,” in which guests learned the value of filtering drinking water, a resource they can use in the future. In this case, children filtered water out of Lake Keowee and drank a glass of the purified water.

Another “sound of success” came from S.C. DNR wildlife biologist Tammy Wactor’s wildlife critters exhibit. For many children, touching a corn snake or an alligator for the first time is an exhilarating hands-on experience.

“It’s that hands-on learning that makes this event worthwhile,” World of Energy Manager B.J. Gatten said. “We get to see children do things they’ve never done before. If we can teach a child just one useful fact, we consider the event a success.”

In addition to National Hunting and Fishing Day, the World of Energy and its partners hosted a “preview day” for roughly 150 local fifth graders the day before the event – students were able to touch and hold trout, learn about water conservation and boating safety and more.

National Hunting and Fishing Day partners include Duke Energy’s World of Energy, DNR, Cabela’s, Upstate Forever, Trout Unlimited, Clemson University’s Extension Service, South Carolina 4-H Shooting Sports, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Weatherby Foundation International, Elkmont Trading Company and Academy Sports and Outdoors.

Radiation isn’t just for science fiction fans

We focus on using nuclear energy to generate power, but nuclear scientists are saving lives. Radioisotopes – chemical elements that produce radiation — are now a staple in our medical diagnostic and treatment tool bag.

In the 1930s, John and Ernest Lawrence ran experiments in what today is known as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. What they learned later resulted in the first application in patients of an artificial radionuclide used phosphorus-32 to treat leukemia.

Today, the uses of nuclear technology have broad applications in medicine. Radiotherapy has been used successfully for decades now in the treatment of many types of cancer. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nearly half of all cancer patients in the United States receive radiation treatment at some point in their therapy. For diagnostics, myocardial perfusion uses radioisotopes to map the flow of blood through the heart to understand heart disease. Bone scans can detect cancer much earlier than X-rays. Ever heard of a “CT Scan?” These marvelous machines use a radiation dose tailored to a specific exam type and provide detail images, virtually eliminating the need for many exploratory surgeries.

According to the World Nuclear Association, “Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine, and about 90% of the procedures are for diagnosis. The most common radioisotope used in diagnosis is technetium-99, with some 40-45 million procedures per year (16.7 million in USA in 2012, 550,000 in Australia), accounting for 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures worldwide.’

Nuclear medicine will continue to be a significant part of our diagnostic and treatment options. Current research continues to explore uses in the battle against cancer as well as uses with AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease patients.