Episode 526: Preparation for nuclear fission topic
Teaching Guidance for 16-19
- Level Advanced
This topic does not lend itself to much practical work; there are a few analogue demonstrations which can be valuable.
Main aims of this topic
- Use balanced equations to represent transmutation, fission and fusion events
- Calculate mass and energy changes in such events
- Understand how a chain reaction can arise in fissile material
- Explain how a controlled chain reaction is managed in a nuclear power reactor
Students should already be familiar with standard notation for nuclides and with balanced nuclear equations. They should know how to calculate energy changes from changes in nuclide masses.
Where this leads
If your students are to study an astronomy topic, this work forms a basis for understanding nuclear processes in stars. Mass-energy calculations using E = m × c 2, as well as the ability to balance nuclear equations, will also be useful in any study of particle physics.