Determining the opinions of students from different grades about nuclear energy

Ayvaci H. Ş., BAKIRCI H.

ENERGY EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PART B-SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, vol.4, no.3, pp.1253-1268, 2012 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


It is possible to say that fission theory suggested by Einstein in 1905 converted into an energy-producing technology just six years later. Today, nuclear energy maintains its popularity as a social concept on which the most comprehensive debate concerning energy-producing is conducted. Many interdisciplinary misconceptions arise regarding this concept discussed in many fields in social terms. This study aims at examining how students perceive the concept of nuclear energy depending on their development. Cross-sectional research method is employed in this research. Open ended survey and semi-structured interview were used as data collection instruments. Participants of this study were 360 students from primary schools, high schools, and Karadeniz Technical University in Trabzon, Turkey. Research findings demonstrate that students' opinions about the effect of nuclear energy on environment vary as the educational level rises. The present study also indicates that opinions of students develop in the dimension discussed in the social media, and media has a great impact on social learning. In addition, similar alternative concepts such as emission of radiation by devices like television and mobile phone were encountered in every age group. It was realized that common opinion of students from every grade is about association of nuclear energy with concepts such as power, nuclear weapons and Chernobyl nuclear accident which brought damage to the environment and people. Alternative concepts of students relating nuclear energy should be determined, and necessary steps should be taken in order to eliminate these alternative concepts. Further, more space should be allocated to social dimension of nuclear energy in curricula.