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Atomic Boy Scouts of the Central Coast

COMM PGnE-Boy ScoutsIn what sounds like a scene from the popular “post-nuclear” era video game series Fallout, a group of 40 local boy scouts set out to earn their “Nuclear Badges” in February.
The photos sent to Tolosa Press courtesy of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), don’t look quite as epic as the concept suggests; instead the kiddos spent time at the utility’s Ontario Road energy education center, getting a diagram of the atom and a little bit more in depth explanation of nuclear energy than is included in grade school curriculum.
PG&E hosted the event with the Boy Scouts of America Los Padres Council to conjure up a new merit badge for the subject.
PG&E Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant employee Martin Wright – himself a former Boy Scout and current assistant scout master for his son’s troop – taught the Feb. 27 inaugural class for the merit badge.
The boy scouts attending got to learn a little bit about nuclear science, as presented by the folks who split atoms for a living.   It was the first in a series of planned merit badge events that PG&E and the local Boy Scouts will collaborate on.
“I can track my interest for science back to my fifth grade teacher who really took the time to engage with me on science-related topics. I knew I wanted to be that person for somebody else one day,” said Wright in a statement released by his employer. “I enjoy sharing these topics with kids so that they too can become passionate about nuclear science and possibly pursue it as a career.”
Still, the children aren’t exactly enraptured by lectures.
Therefore Wright used games to demonstrate nuclear energy, including use of Ping-Pong balls as neutrons in an illustration of fission – as opposed to fusion, nothing blew up.
“The biggest thing for me is seeing their enthusiasm when you explain something that is very complicated and they get it,” he added. “You see the mental light bulb go on.”
As PG&E is the monopoly utility for the Central Coast and swaths of Northern California, providing energy to a company-estimated 16 million people, or 10 percent of all electricity generated in the State, the light bulb analogy is apt.
– Camas Frank