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This lesson, created by JoAnn Flejszar, allows students to trace the steps of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle beginning with the mining process, and ending when the fuel rods are ready to be loaded into the fuel assembly for use in a nuclear reactor. Using real-life examples from China, India, and France – countries that lead the way in finding new reactor designs, allowing for fuel recycling – this lesson focuses on nuclear-power as a much debated source of energy in the United States. 

In class, students will be divided into six groups (based on the following areas of study: the geology of uranium deposits, mining of uranium, enrichment of uranium, fuel fabrication, nuclear power stations, and waste storage) to research their function. Each group will then be expected to make a concept map that explains their step of the Nuclear Cycle, and answer the following concepts in their presentation: Is there an energy transformation during this process? Is it potential, chemical, or kinetic energy change? What are the economic concerns (as well as the safety, health, and environmental issues) that need to be addressed at this step? 

Intended for students in high school, this lesson assumes that students will have prior knowledge of basic geology, report writing skills, and Camtasia skills before competing the lesson. Upon completion, students should be able to identify differences in the origin and use of renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy, and describe the life cycle of a product, including the resources, production, packaging, transportation, disposal, and pollution. 

Included with the lesson are two rubrics, which assist the teacher in grading the student presentations.

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Alternate Title From Mine to Reactor: What is the Nuclear Fuel Cycle?
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Date Issued 2011-08
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Rights Northern Wyoming Community College District
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