Thanks to GPS parent Scott Hunnewell, plant manager of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant for TVA (and dad to Sawyer ’24), GPS eighth-graders and some of their teachers were able to spend a day touring the plant and Training Center to complement their science studies.
Their visit began in the Sequoyah Training Center Auditorium for Nuclear 101, an introduction to what they would be seeing throughout the day. Then they viewed an Ops Simulator—a model of the master control room for Sequoyah Nuclear Plant—as well as a 3D model of the plant, a fuel assembly, and labs/shops.
While viewing the simulator of the control room, which is used to run training scenarios, the girls were allowed to test buttons and levers to observe what would happen in the event of complete reactor failure. They were even allowed to press the button to shut down the reactors and witness the alarm sounding and lights flashing.
After lunch it was onto the OCA (an onsite containment for spent fuel) and Cooling Tower observation, with GPS being the first school to go inside the towers. Then the teachers completed an Access Portal Walkthrough and a general plant overview.
“We learned that the Access Portal has bomb-sniffing sensors, which was cool,” said Jordan McCarter ’96, history teacher and Dean of the Eighth Grade Class. “I had no idea a machine could detect explosives.”
Lastly, they enjoyed a FLEX Building Tour, outfitted with emergency response equipment and built by Sequoyah following the Fukushima Daiichi (Japan) nuclear disaster in 2011.
Kristi Springfield, GPS Science Department Chair, said the girls really enjoyed their tour. “This was one of the most awe-inspiring field trips I’ve ever been on,” she said. “It was so special that we got to go inside the cooling tower!”