Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mousetraps and Ping-Pong Balls: Explaining Nuclear Power to the Media

With Suzie Wiley and Derrick Shull, after my appearance on Talk of the Town  at WYAM TV-51, in Decatur, Alabama.  As always, they made me feel so welcome.  On the show we talked about Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!  I explained how mousetraps and Ping-Pong balls factor into my school presentations.

I had the honor of being a guest on the show several years ago to discuss my children’s picture book about cancer.  After today’s show Derrick shared with me how he had given his mother a breast cancer survivor, a copy of  Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had read it to her students so they would understand what she went through.  He was so appreciative.  It's moments like this that keep me motivated!

I’ve had a lot of “moments like this” this week.  Check out:

Call to Action: Educate and Encourage Students about Nuclear Science posted on the ANS Nuclear Cafe,  by Bethany Cargle, Marketing Specialist for RCS Nuclear Corporation.

Apex, NC, March 20, 2012 —“Do power plants really use mouse traps and Ping-Pong balls?” Just one of the questions students who celebrated National Engineers Week got answered by attending the school presentation of  Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! sponsored by RCS Nuclear Corporation.

Amelia Frahm, author of the children’s picture book, described a fission chain reaction using a metaphor of Ping-Pong balls and mouse traps in order to help children understand how energy is produced in a nuclear power plant. RCS Nuclear donated Frahm’s book to Charlotte, North Carolina elementary schools and sponsored the author reading.

As a supplier of nuclear and related engineering personnel, RCS Nuclear likes to encourage young students to become engineers. “These students are the future for industries we supply engineers to, and it is the company’s responsibility to prepare them now,” said Carlos Garcia, founder of RCS Nuclear.

Since its release in December, Frahm’s children’s book explaining nuclear power plants and the related school presentation she has implemented have been used by corporations like RCS Nuclear to focus attention on National Engineers Week, and by schools like Van Vleck Elementary in Van Vleck, Texas who used the program to kick off National Nuclear Science Week. Frahm’s school presentations helped celebrate in a manner that grasped the attention of elementary and intermediate students.

“I try to engage children using concepts they understand and find entertaining, like when I ask what Chubby does on his day off, he goes fission,” said Frahm.

In attendance at Frahm’s Steele Creek Elementary book reading in Charlotte were five sessions of 50 students; in total, approximately 250 fourth and fifth graders. Prior to the reading, the students were asked if they knew what nuclear engineers did or how nuclear energy was created. Students could not give an answer; however, they listened carefully as they learned how a nuclear plant works from the point of view of a lab rat, a blue bird, and a fat cat, who are characters in the book. Then they laughed as they enjoyed a video created by the author, which demonstrated the mouse trap and Ping-Pong ball fission chain reaction.

More information about Frahm's school program and contact information to schedule an author book reading may be found on the link School Programs at

Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! costs $9.95 and is available from the publisher,  Barnes & Noble bookstores, online at, and at other bookstores.

About RCS Nuclear Corporation

RCS Nuclear is a Trade Name for RCS Corporation. Ranked the #1 Fastest Growing New Small Business in America by Entrepreneurmagazine, Since 1994, RCS Corporation has provides Professional Staffing Services to the Nuclear and Energy Industries throughout the United States and Internationally.

About Nutcracker Publishing Company

Nutcracker Publishing Company was founded in 2001. The company publishes children's books that educate, entertain, and make it easier to establish a dialogue between children and adults about difficult subjects such as cancer and nuclear power. Information on educational programs for schools and other organizations can be found at the company’s website. Nutcracker Publishing Company is based in North Carolina.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fukushima One Year Later: My Children's Picture Book.

Not even the great Zoltar could have predicted my career in children's books or the world events that would affect it.  

In the aftermath of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster most people are surprised to discover I almost did not publish Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!, but prior to the Fukushima incident my book's topic evoked more bored yawns than invitations to visit elementary schools.

So much attention has been placed on what went wrong at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant due to natural disasters most of us have forgotten that the Nuclear Industry had and continues to have an unsurpassed safety record.

That record is what made my book a tough sell to the general public and even some in the nuclear industry. I was contemplating paying off my illustrator and just placing my children’s book about nuclear power plants on hold when the tsunami hit Japan.    

If ever I have received a “sign” to do something, that appeared to be it.

 Nuclear Power: How aNuclear Power Plant Really Works! was released December 29, 2011. 

I no longer worry about my book’s topic being considered boring.  If anything, boredom has been replaced with irrational fear.  

Children’s picture books are never as simple and easy to write as they appear. My “Nuke Book” is a creative look at a factual subject and it had to be technically accurate.

None of the professionals I market my book to or parents who purchase my book would expect anything less than for me to have sought out the opinions and critiques of the nuclear industry.  People who have worked within the industry and understand what they are talking about. 

Unfortunately, during the aftermath of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster these industry leaders and experts have often been by-passed in favor of commentators with more sensationalized points of view.

People I would have never considered a legitimate source for even a fictional children’s picture book about nuclear power have been considered expert sources on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Fukushima changed everything, including my mind about publishing a children’s book about nuclear power.  Public perception of nuclear power plants remains an issue for the nuclear industry and even my children’s picture book about it.  The bored yawns I encountered have been replaced by raised eyebrows, genuine interest and sometimes irrational fear.  

I am in the returning lane of my author school visits/ marketing road trip. I have lit up the roads from North Carolina to Texas with stops along the way in both Florida and Alabama.  Most educators tend to read a book before critiquing it, and these past few months I have had the privilege of meeting with many of them.  As they have pointed out, nothing eliminates fear like education. 

What better way to educate a classroom full of elementary children about nuclear energy than a book about it? 

Amelia Frahm with Bethany Cargle, Marketing Specialist for RCS Corp. and students at Steele Creek Elem. School, Charlotte, NC.  RCS donated my book  to area schools and arranged my visit to celebrate National Engineers Week.