Teacher Scholars Discuss the Nature of Energy

While teachers enjoy helping students learn about new subjects, teachers also enjoy learning and expanding their knowledge on subjects as well. In partnership with the Charlotte Teacher’s Institute(CTI) speaker series, the EnergyExplorium at McGuire Nuclear Station hosted an event for teachers to share what they learned from research projects related to energy. More than 70 people attended the event which provided an opportunity for  teachers to present their work focused on the theme: Teachers as Scholars: The Nature of Energy. Representing research conducted for elementary, middle, high school and university students, teacher also displayed their work and provided hands-on demonstrations to complement their research.

Discussion Topics and Presenters:

  • The Nature of Energy: How we use and Store it to Power Our Everyday Lives – Susan Trammell, Professor of Physics – UNC Charlotte
  • Energy in Our World – Cindy Woolery, Science Teacher – Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School
  • Crusing Continents and an Awesome Asthenosphere: Fueling Earth’s Ever Changing Surface – Julie Ruziska Tiddy – Science Teacher – Carmel Middle School
  • Mama did not Take the Kodachrome Away But Charge-Coupled Devices Did – Deb Semmler, Physics Teacher – East Mecklenburg High School

“Duke Energy is a strong supporter of CTI and we were honored to host the event at the EnergyExplorium,” says Christine Pulley, a member of the communications team at the EnergyExplorium. “As an energy education center we’re always looking for ways to educate the public on nuclear and other energy-related issues. We believe that when educators have an opportunity to expand their knowledge, it benefits their students and the overall classroom experience.”

The Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) is an initiative to strengthen teaching and learning in public schools. Led by classroom teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (Charlotte, N.C.) and professors at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College, CTI is founded on four pillars of strong professional development:  content knowledge, creativity, leadership and collaboration. In addition to hosting seminars for teachers, CTI hosts programs and special events to engage and educate teachers and the community at large.

Pen Pal Program Empowers Young Minds

Publication12,200. We’re not referring to the number of megawatts one of our nuclear plants produces. Instead, it’s the total number of students and employees who have participated in the pen pal programs at Catawba and McGuire nuclear stations since its start more than 10 years ago.

Initially, the pen pal program was created to help elementary school students improve their writing and reading skills by providing a fun and interactive way to practice and improve those skills. But, as it grew, the program has come to mean much more. Through letters and conversations with pen pals, employees spark students’ interest in careers they may have never known about. In return, the pen pal program has enabled employees to serve in mentorship roles, possibly empowering young students to pursue a career in the nuclear industry.

Each year, Catawba and McGuire nuclear station employees are paired with students who engage in spirited exchanges of ideas and updates throughout the school year. This year, nearly 90 eager employee pen pals, representing a variety of departments, are participating in the pen pal project, working with children via handwritten letters and connecting them in lasting ways.

“Not only does the project allow students to improve their penmanship, but writing about their world and reading about someone else’s helps build vocabulary and reading skills. It also develops critical thinking and problem solving skills and helps children feel connected by sharing their stories and reading about another person’s life experiences” explains Lisa Leonard, a long-time pen pal at McGuire.

After several months of sharing letters, pen pals meet face-to-face to share conversations and experiences over a picnic lunch and games.

Nuclear First Responders: There When Needed

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When one hears the words “first responder,” the first thing that comes to mind are emergency medical technicians, fire fighters and police officers.

These are also the first responders at a nuclear facility — the medical emergency response team, the fire brigade and security.

Fire Brigade

Members of Duke Energy's nuclear plant's fire brigades regularly practice their skills with live fire training sessions at Gaston College in North Carolina.

Members of Duke Energy’s fire brigades regularly practice their skills with live fire training sessions at Gaston College in North Carolina.

Every commercial nuclear facility in the United States has its own fire department.

The purpose of the plant’s fire brigade is singular, to stop the spread of fire, in the event of a fire, at the plant.

All members of the fire brigade have been through training to serve on the plant’s fire brigade, and they regularly have drills and exercises to practice. Some members of the fire brigade have other nuclear jobs, such as maintenance technician or nuclear operator. But when the time comes, they change out of their regular work attire into their firefighting gear.

Security

Nuclear security officers have extensive training and often have experience in the military or police work.

Nuclear security officers have extensive training and often have experience in the military or police work.

Another nuclear first responder is security. Each Duke Energy nuclear facility is guarded 24 hours a day by an armed, well-trained security force.

Security officers maintain their high level of readiness through classroom courses, drills and practical exercises. They regularly drill, just like the fire brigade , to hone their skills and prepare for any situation.

Security officers usually come from a military or law enforcement background and are trained to protect the plant and employees. The NRC tests the readiness of nuclear security teams through a series of exercises, which simulate a planned attack on the plant. Security officers must prove through these exercises that they can respond to any attack on the plant quickly and effectively.

MERT
A subset of security is the Medical Emergency Response Team, or MERT. These individuals are ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any medical emergency on site.

All of these individuals train, prepare and refine their skills if they are ever called upon.

The number one priority at every nuclear facility is the safety of the public and employees. And the individuals in these jobs are the first to respond during an emergency.