We here at PopAtomic have been formulating ways to use art to effectively reach young people with critical information about nuclear energy for some time now. I am excited to report that our first major Educational Outreach effort at Chattahoochee Technical College in Atlanta confirmed our theory that art can make learning about nuclear energy a fun and empowering experience.
As a part of their Service Learning Program for Introduction to Sociology, students watched a presentation about nuclear energy and art, then participated in making art that transformed negative imagery associated with nuclear into positive imagery. During the art making process students were encouraged to discuss the role of energy creation and consumption in the context of Sociology. Specifically we touched on how a viable clean energy source such as nuclear has come to be so misunderstood as well as ways we can change those misperceptions.
I think it is fair to say that I learned as much as the students during this program. Most had very little knowledge of nuclear energy and were grateful to be introduced to some basic facts. Essentially all of the students from the three classes I spoke to are now ready and equipped to have a meaningful discussion about energy outside of the classroom. I was amazed at how receptive and creative these students were in approaching this challenging subject.
Starting our Educational Outreach efforts in Atlanta was not coincidental. We hope to cultivate strong support of nuclear energy in Georgia as the Vogtle Electrical Generating Plant expands, especially among young people and the arts community. These efforts will be followed up by continued speaking engagements at Chattahoochee Technical College, as well as collaborative efforts with the Georgia Tech Student American Nuclear Society, leading up to an art exhibit to open in Atlanta during the 2011 Student Conference in April. And we may have just discovered a few more artists to participate in the exhibition!
To my my surprise not a single student tried to use the “I’m not creative” excuse that often comes out when you ask adults to make art. I wonder if it was because there was a sense of purpose behind the art making? Maybe this was just an exceptional group of people? Either way the art work that came out of this program is truly incredible. I will conclude with some images of student work that will really make you smile! Next up on my speaking tour: Idaho National Lab on Tuesday and University of North Carolina Asheville in September.
There’s so much amazing student work that we will have to share it over a series of posts and through our Facebook page. A special thanks to Leigh Keever for inviting us to speak to her classes, and to her wonderful students for accepting this challenge with creative and open minds.
-Suzanne Hobbs, 8/20/2010
( http://www.popatomic.org/ )