For the 10th year in a row, Nuclear Science Week is being recognized across the country – including right here in the Aiken-Augusta area.
The celebratory stretch, Oct. 14-18, focuses on local, national and international aspects of nuclear science and its workforce, topics of particular importance and interest in the two-state region because of the Savannah River Site, south of Aiken, and Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta.
A breadth of corresponding events are scheduled in Aiken County and beyond. They include education days at USC Aiken; STEM Career Connections in Augusta, informing students about potential career paths; site visits and tours of the Savannah River Site and Plant Vogtle; the annual Edward Teller Lecture and Banquet, this year featuring Michael Shellenberger, the founder and president of Environmental Progress; and Atoms in the Alley, a family-friendly festival honoring the area's rich nuclear roots.
Jim Marra, the executive director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, on Monday said Nuclear Science Week "is all about education and outreach."
"Radiation and nuclear materials are all around us. We encounter them in our everyday lives," Marra said. He continued, "We're here to educate and tell the public about everything that involves nuclear in their lives and how it makes our lives better."
Mindy Mets, who sits on the Nuclear Science Week International Steering Committee, had similar things to say.
"It's important because our region is at the forefront of the important contribution that nuclear science makes to society, and those can be medical, they're technological, they relate to our everyday life," said Mets, who also works with the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization. "And it's an emerging field with more opportunity."
Each year, a host city is selected for the National Nuclear Science Week events. The first and ninth Nuclear Science Week festivities were held in Albuquerque, N.M.
New Mexico is home to a handful of ongoing nuclear efforts – at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and Los Alamos National Laboratory, for example – and has decades of related history.
Nuclear Science Week was hosted in Aiken in 2013. This year, Washington, D.C., is serving as the flagship location.
"It is celebrated in cities big and small, and any community is invited to get involved and host a Nuclear Science Week celebration," according to the Nuclear Science Week website.
The Atoms in the Alley block party will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in The Alley in downtown Aiken. Admission is free.
The event will include science-related demonstrations, music, vendors and more. All proceeds benefit the SRS Museum.
For more information about Atoms in the Alley, contact Lauren Miller at email@example.com or 803-648-1437.