Nuclear Fission
Quantum and Nuclear

Episode 526: Preparation for nuclear fission topic

Teaching Guidance for 16-19 IOP TAP

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

Nuclear fission


Students will:

  • 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

Prior knowledge

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.

Nuclear Fission
can be analysed using the quantity Binding Energy
exhibits Chain Reaction
involves Unstable Nucleus
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