Featured Outreach from Student Sections

Check out outreach ideas from fellow student sections below! Click the links to download full descriptions of the events.

Has your section had a successful outreach activity they would like to share? Contact us to share your efforts. Be sure to include pictures.

Featured Event: PWR Reloading Game

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Student Section

How to Play the Game

The LED glow sticks turn on and off. If it is off, it is “fresh” fuel, and if it is on it is “spent” fuel. Three colors are provided (red, blue and green). The colors can be used to portray several enrichment zones to play the loading pattern game. They can also be ignored if the game is just a refueling race.

With one demo:
Option 1) Time yourself! How fast can you remove the spent fuel and replace it with fresh fuel without dropping any?
Option 2) Use the colors to simulate a loading pattern, and refuel the core to match a loading pattern card!

With two demos:
Race against each other! Who can remove the spent fuel and replace it with fresh fuel the fastest? Remember, if you drop one of the fuel rods, it’s game over!

Supplies needed:

The hardware for the reactor core was built by the MIT machine shop, part of the schematic is can be found here.  However, a cheap alternative would be to create  the grid with cardboard by cutting out the holes.


Start with a core that has a randomly assorted scheme and several empty spots. Let the player choose a loading pattern from the cards. The player needs to match the loading pattern by rearranging the in-core rods and bringing in new rods as necessary. The game can be modified by turning some of the flashlights on (“spent fuel”) and some off (“fresh fuel”), and having the player do a fuel reload with all fresh fuel.

The instructor should explain why we use different enrichment (represented by the colors), what a typical loading pattern really looks like (over 50 fuel assemblies, higher enrichment outside, lower enrichment inside), that nuclear fuel typically glows blue, regardless of the enrichment, and that refueling occurs underwater with remote controls just like the extension arms that the player is using.

U-235 Fission Game
University of Florida

Students are taught about criticality with the help of Nerf guns and a spinning “reactor” board

Mousetrap Fission “Reactor”
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

A demonstration on the fission chain reaction using mousetraps and ping pong balls