Researcher explains atomic power with LEGO bricks

A researcher at Idaho National Laboratory has come up with a

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model that explains nuclear power.

Catherine Riddle, Ph.D. is a researcher at Idaho National Laboratory and a LEGO fan. She has produced a 5,857 piece digital model to demonstrate how the public can learn about nuclear power.

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starts a conversation with adults and children,” she told Post Register. “I wanted to create an educational tool that sparks interest in nuclear power and is kind of an intro into it, so I came up with Atomic Town Power. It could act as a stepping stone into nuclear energy.”

To design such an enormous model, she had to get to drips with LEGO Digital Designer. Once she had got to grips with the software, she came up with the sophisticated model:

On the generator level, the Atomic Town Power model includes a string of four LED bulbs, representing the 200-watt light bulbs that went live at EBR-I the afternoon of Dec. 20, 1951. The set also includes a hot cell that can be rotated to the inside of the reactor, a cooling canal for fuel removal, electrical generator, chemistry laboratory, overhead crane to open the reactor lid, reactor control room, and reception area. The reactor lid can be opened using the overhead crane to reveal the core design and fuel rods.

LEGO MOC Atomic Town Power

“Everything lights up, and you will notice that I put flowers and cacti in the front,” she explained. “One of my colleagues said, ‘You put flowers in the front of a nuclear reactor?’ and my response was ‘Yes, I put flowers in front of my reactor. It is clean energy, I want flowers.’ I wanted to make it feel warm and inviting.”

Riddle has submitted her model to LEGO Ideas, where she hopes the combination of building and science will appeal users.

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Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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