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Supercomputing Challenge

Uranium: Silent Killer

Team: 100


Area of Science: Enviromental

Problem Definition:

Our problem is Uranium Mining on the Navajo Reservation. As of now, there is an ongoing controversy with the Navajo Nation Council of deciding whether to start Uranium Mining back on the Reservation or not. Uranium Mines were a source of employment for the Navajos’ on the Navajo Reservation back then. Uranium became a threat to human health for the men and women who worked in or near the mines and for the children who played near the mines. Unfortunately, back then, the U.S. government did not reveal any of the health risks that the uranium would cause. As a result, 133 out of 150 Navajo Miners died from being exposed to high levels of radioactivity which caused lung cancer and various forms of fibrosis. While working, the miners would be unaware of spreading uranium deposits throughout their land. For example, when uranium was being transported it would splash out of the trucks and while walking from work to their home, the workers’ would have deposits of uranium on their shoes or clothing. Uranium could also be found in various water sources such as drinking water. Many people were affected by the harmful substance of uranium. We think it is not a bright idea to again begin Uranium Mining back on the Navajo Reservation.

Problem Solution:

On star logo we have created a model where it demonstrates how a turtle might transport the uranium from the mine to their homes. We will use Starlogo to create an environment (uranium caves) where about a maximum of 100 adults (white turtles) would be working in the uranium mines. Children (yellow turtles) would eventually go looking for places to play, which they may choose an area where it is effected with uranium. (Effected areas may be deposits that have fallen off the workers, uranium accidentally being splashed out by trucks, or near the uranium caves.) The computer will show the moment a turtle becomes infected, it would go through a color stage to determine how the turtle became infected, in the midst of being infected, and then they die.

Progress to Date:

At this time we continue research on Uranium by interviewing miners who in the uranium mines in the past. We have visited and observed an old uranium mine around Cove, Arizona and other uranium mines around our local area. We have also been keeping in contact with the local Shiprock Uranium Office and getting some info from them.

Expected Results:

We expect the star logo model to help us demonstrate how the uranium brought illness among those who worked in the mines long ago. After presenting this demonstration, we expect to have people get involved in this project who would help us make an impression of what the youth think about restarting Uranium Mining on the Navajo Reservation.

Team Members:

  Lache Yazzie
  Jeralea Hillgartner
  Dakota Dee

Sponsoring Teacher: Vernetta Noble

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