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W&L Teams Up to Teach Teachers About Nuclear Energy

Fifty high school science teachers from all over the country spent four days learning about nuclear energy in a workshop that Washington and Lee co-hosted with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project last month.

The workshop, which was funded by a grant from W&L alumnus Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L, was held in Charlottesville at the Boar’s Head Inn and was led by W&L professor Frank Settle (chemistry) and Al Carr ’71L (law), along with Sharon Squassoni from the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. The workshop explored nuclear power from political, social, and scientific perspectives, and the participants learned about everything from uranium to nuclear fuel, from waste storage to nonproliferation issues.

The majority of the attendees were high school teachers, although there were some middle school teachers. They came from as far away as Alaska, California, Massachusetts and Florida. In addition to classroom presentations, the workshop included field trips to the North Anna nuclear power station, where they got a chance to visit the control room, and AREVA’s technician training facility in Lynchburg. AREVA is the world leader in the design and construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors, engineering, instrumentation, and related services to the nuclear industry.

Al Carr conducted a mock Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing that led the participants through a series of exercises in which they had to argue for, or against, the decision to locate a new plant in their community.

Mary Spruill, executive director of NEED, says that “after 30 years of educating America’s students and teachers about energy, NEED is honored to partner with Washington and Lee and The Lenfest Foundation to provide educators from around the country the opportunity to look at nuclear energy more deeply.”

“This is another project on nuclear energy education that Gerry Lenfest has been instrumental in supporting,” says Frank Settle. “He has provided about $1.2 million in funds for projects that include W&L partnerships with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Federation of American Scientists in addition to the NEED workshop.”