Year 12 Chemistry and Physics Excursion to ANSTO


Excursions are used to reinforce learning by bringing to life what is taught in the classroom. Nuclear Technology is an important technology used in medicine and in industry. In Chemistry and in Physics the different types of radiation emitted and their usage in medicine and industry is studied. Nuclear Technology is used in our everyday life whether we know it or not. For example the radioisotope Americium-241 is found in home smoke alarms and semiconductors in our electronic gadgets are produced by bombarding silicon ingots with neutrons produced by the nuclear reactor at ANSTO. Radioisotopes are also used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer and in the sterilisation of equipment. These are a few of the many uses of nuclear chemistry.

The tour at ANSTO started with a visit of the site. Because of the vastness of the technology site students were bussed to the different buildings that contained the nuclear reactor, the neutron beam instruments, the accelerators and the cyclotron. Whilst looking at the operation of the nuclear reactor (OPAL) students got to see how the reactor plays a vital role in society by functioning as a 'neutron factory', producing radioisotopes for cancer detection and treatment, and neutron beams for fundamental materials research. Research Centres from all over Australia and from overseas use the neutron beam facilities at ANSTO. The Education Officer described some of the recent and current research projects conducted with the neutron beam instruments. At the accelerator centre the accelerator's huge array of applications was discussed and radio dating using this instrument was explained.

The tour ended with a lecture summarising all that was learnt on the day and in the Chemistry and Physics course.

From this tour the students gained a deeper understanding of the working of the nuclear reactor and realised the vast scope of nuclear technology applications.

Mrs Caroline O'Hare 
Leader of Learning - Science.