Year 11 Chemistry Excursion – ANSTO – 9 December 2017

On the 9/11/2017, the Year 11 Chemistry students travelled to the ANSTO Discovery Centre.

This excursion allowed us to discover how nuclear science and technology helps to improve health outcomes, understand the environment and identify opportunities for industry. It was a very educational yet amazing experience and a huge eye opener to the enormity and significance of such advanced scientific research regarding nuclear chemistry.

Soon after arrival, we actually left NSW and entered the ACT (which caused great confusion amongst us all) to the highly secured vicinity containing all the ground-breaking nuclear technology. We learnt about the OPAL (Open Pool Australian Lightwater) Research Reactor which is considered one of the best research reactors in the world and produces radioisotopes for cancer detection and treatment, and neutron beams for fundamental materials research. Unfortunately we were unable to enter the room where the reactor was placed as the radioactive Uranium -235 fuel was being replaced and it would have been too dangerous to enter the vicinity. Nevertheless, we were still able to see other experiments and learn more about harnessing radioisotopes and the procedures that are implemented in order for this fascinating process to occur.

We also saw how safe and secure the entire site is from having gigantic concrete and steel sheds encasing one single reactor to aeroplane shredding nets on top of buildings. It was also interesting to see that even though we were all in the presence of radioactive machinery and materials that there was no excess amounts of radiation in the atmosphere around us, only the normal background radiation which is found everywhere in society. Learning about radioactive isotopes and the subatomic radioactive processes of nuclear chemistry was utterly amazing and I think we would all recommend this tour to everyone interested in chemistry, physics or just science in general to visit the facility and learn more about this upcoming field of scientific research.

 

Zara Solomos (Year 11 Chemistry Student)