The Dutch association EURATOMFOM has produced a teaching module to bring fusion research into the classroom. The module was recently certified by the Dutch Ministry of Education and is now an official (elective) part of the new subject “Nature, Life and Technology” (NLT) in the Dutch curriculum. NLT aims to increase the interest in science and technical subjects in secondary schools by involving pupils in research, showing the cross links between different disciplines and stressing the applications of science in society.

The module challenges students in the last years of secondary school to design their own fusion reactor, capable of producing enough energy to power the city of New York. They are guided through seven design steps to accomplish this. After a brief overview of the field of alternative energy, the module features diverse subjects such the physics of magnetic confinement, plasma heating and choices of wall material. Students are encouraged to make their own design choices such as the fuel to use or the choice between a divertor or a limiter, and defend them on the basis of physical arguments.

Included are ample exercises and hands-on activities. A strong link with current research in the field is established by using data and examples from international fusion experiments such as TEXTOR, MAST and JET to perform calculations and make predictions. In one (optional) activity, students come to the FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen, the Dutch fusion lab, and perform measurements on the plasma wall interaction experiment Pilot-PSI with their home-made spectrometer.

The module was developed by Erik Min (chief editor) and Amy Shumack from FOM-Rijnhuizen, in close collaboration with secondary school teachers Lieke Heimel and Peter van Soest. Before certification, the module was tested in several schools. Judging by the reactions, students are very keen on learning about this fascinating subject.

Plans exist to translate the module into English for use by EFDA.

For more information, please contact Erik Min, Public Information Officer at the FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen., +31 30 6096 836.