2003 Virginia SOLs
Motivation for Learning
What is the difference between fission and fusion? Can a simple model help visualize the basic concepts?
Nuclear fusion is the combining of light elements into heavier ones. Nuclear fission is the splitting of a heavy element into smaller, lighter elements. In both of these processes energy can be released. This demonstration with soap bubbles is limited as a model for fission or fusion because it illustrates only the overall concept. The elements that are missing from the soap bubble model are the neutrons and the energy released during fission, and the protons and energy released during fusion. A nuclear source of energy in nature is the sun. Stars fuse hydrogen atoms into helium atoms and in this process of fusion release energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation.
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Students with Special Needs
Students unable to blow the proper size bubbles or manipulate the wire frames independently can work with a partner or the class can be divided into groups.
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1. What is the name of the nuclear reaction where small elements combine to make larger elements?
2. What is the name of the nuclear reaction where a large element splits into smaller elements?