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Inspiring High School Students to Pursue Careers in Nuclear Science

IAEA Project Aims to Put Wow Factor in Secondary Science Education

malaysia students

The Compedium aims to encourage high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

A career in nuclear science can be equally as engaging as a career in Google or Coca-Cola.

With support from the IAEA, this is the message that science educators want to impart to high school students in four countries, using a tool called Compendium that aims to increase awareness and appreciation for nuclear science and technology among the youth.

Compendium is short for A Compendium of Resources and Activities for Secondary School Teachers and Students on Nuclear Science and Technology. Prepared under a regional IAEA technical cooperation project. It was recently launched as a pilot in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and the United Arab Emirates. These countries have active nuclear programmes in various fields, including nuclear energy, and have been undertaking a range of activities to increase awareness and appreciation of nuclear science and technology.

The Compendium puts together a collection of extra-curricular programmes and activities for secondary school teachers and students aimed at increasing curiosity, awareness and knowledge among students.

Pilot activities will be carried out in 22 schools selected by the national authorities and will engage thousands of students and their teachers in the current and next school year. These students can potentially be the next generation of nuclear professionals in the Asia and the Pacific region.

The WOW factor

During the pilot stage, scientists and educators are aiming to add a ‘wow factor’ that will intrigue students and encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Planned activities range from practical exercises on how to build a cloud chamber and measure radiation tracks, to theatre performances on facts or fiction – using sci-fi films to find out whether the technology featured is actual science fact or pure science fiction. The aim is also to help teachers in their work without adding to their challenging and busy schedules.

One of the experts involved in the launch of the Compendium remarked, “We aim to recruit locally 46 per cent of the needed workforce for the new nuclear power plants and to do so we need to make sure our industry can be as engaging as a career as Google and Coca-Cola."

The pilot stage of the Compendium project will continue until December 2015, and includes testing and improving the methodology, and enhancing the materials. The initiative brings together national nuclear research institutes and school officials, including superintendents, supervisors and teachers, who have defined the pilot action plan based on their existing outreach efforts as well as on the guidance in the Compendium.

The IAEA and international experts from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, the US Nuclear Power Institute, the University of Tokyo and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan, and EDF Energy in the United Kingdom, are providing support for the implementation of the pilot stage.


The Compendium supports the introduction or expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as nuclear topics in secondary education. Furthermore, the modular nature of the materials allows teachers and students to choose activities that meet their specific needs.

The idea behind the Compendium first arose in 2012 at a TC project meeting, when Ms. Valerie Segovia, Director of Communication and Outreach at the US Nuclear Power Institute, shared with the IAEA her work in Texas, USA, to encourage young students’ interest in STEM, with the objective of meeting the increased demand for science and nuclear-related work demand in her country. Since then, the IAEA has worked with Ms. Segovia and other international experts from Australia, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea and United Kingdom, to develop the Compendium.

The Compendium has been created under the umbrella of an IAEA Technical Cooperation project called ‘Supporting Sustainability and Networking of National Nuclear Institutions in Asia and the Pacific Region' (RAS0065).

Last update: 22 December 2015