Nukes Are for Kids

The nuclear industry is ensuring schoolchildren learn the ABCs of their radioactive future


James Yang /

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The nuclear industry is selling its vision of a bright nuclear future to schoolchildren by offering teachers free education tools extolling the benefits of radiation, according to The New Republic (July 14, 2011). The classroom presentations, activities, and games are the marketing brainchild of the EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of a large nuclear-waste processor, and they’ve already been doled out to classrooms in Mississippi, Louisiana, and elsewhere.  

Industry-funded school propaganda is “making a comeback as the once-moribund nuclear industry gears up for a revival,” the weekly reports. Among the materials for 6th to 12th graders is a trivia game that points out the ecological destruction wrought by wind towers (bird killers!) and solar farms (desert destruction!). “We’re always looking for new ways to reach kids,” says EnergySolutions Foundation executive director Pearl Wright. 

What’s worse, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy has updated a pro-nuclear curriculum called the Harnessed Atom, and its website hosts an interactive, animated city called Neutropolis where nuclear power is cool, fun, safe, and secure. One character, says The New Republic, is “a ‘fashion-forward teenager’ in purple knee-boots who cares about the environment and plans to study nuclear engineering.”

168-cover-thumb.jpgHave something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the November-December 2011 issue of Utne Reader.