Engineer Ryne Burgess

Palo Verde Reactor Engineer Ryne Burgess demonstrates for Tartesso Elementary eighth grader Aubree Bruner, sixth grader Linkin Birch and eighth grader Benjamin Doerksen. (Photo courtesy APS)

Discovery Inc.'s education arm, Discovery Education, shot its first segment of Navigation Nuclear: Energizing Our World at Buckeye’s Energy Education Center. The program is geared toward middle school students, with the hope of boosting their passion for science. 

The Navigating Nuclear: Energizing Our World segment, filmed August 9, will be available to students and teachers for free as one of Discovery Education’s many Virtual Field Trips. The online segments are a series of filmed events that allow students to virtually go places they may not ever get to visit.

Three students from Tartesso Elementary School in Buckeye were chosen to help with an experiment. The fieldtrip focused on how nuclear electricity is made, training and technology, and how the clean source of energy impacts Arizona.

Students chose sixth-grader Linkin Birch and eighth-graders Benjamin Doerksen and Aubree Bruner to represent Tartesso Elementary in the filmed segment.

“We all wrote our own speeches and we presented them to our classes. Our principal announced the winners, and I was really excited,” Birch said. “Science is one of my favorite subjects, so I was very excited to have won.”

The new program’s goal is to encourage students to not only understand science, but enjoy it as well. Elizabeth Muller, account specialist with Discovery Education, said the program is a great way for kids to engage in their learning.

“What’s most exciting is that the program will empower a new generation of young scientists with virtually immersive, no-cost educational opportunities that inspire lifelong learning,” Muller said.

Throughout the filming, students interacted with a nuclear engineer. The three students agreed the segment boosted their love for science. At a young age, Birch and Doerksen said they are sure their future college educations and careers will revolve around their excitement for science.

“I want to be a biologist or an engineer. I just really have a big passion for STEM and want to do something in the field of science,” Doerksen said.

Discovery Education acknowledges the increase of interest in STEM from students within the past few years. Charmion Kinder, director of CEP Communications with Discovery Education, said science is vital to a student’s education.

“Empowering students with hands-on learning opportunities inspires a lifelong commitment to solution seeking and unlocks the potential of a new generation of young scientists,” Kinder said. “Navigation Nuclear will help to empower educators with immersive digital tools and virtual experiences that encourage the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

The new initiative launched August 15 on, where students will be able to explore applications of atomic science and its role in future advancements.

“Navigation Nuclear will help empower students to explore STEM principals, hone their research abilities and engage students in insightful conversations, helping students match their skills and interests to exciting new opportunities in nuclear science. We believe this program will help open their eyes to the role science plays in our everyday world,” Kinder said.

Navigating Nuclear is accessible to educators nationwide. The initiative’s immersive Virtual Field Trip will debut during Nuclear Science Week on Monday, October 15. Educators, parents and students can visit on August 15 for the digital debut.

“Overall, the Navigating Nuclear initiative seeks to empower educators to discuss a range of topics – from how energy is stored in an atom’s nucleus to how that energy transforms into the electricity that powers our lives – and we’re excited about it launching,” Kinder said.