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U.S. Department of Energy


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics

Resource Type

  • Videos, 1 minute, 2 seconds

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Fission vs. Fusion: What's the Difference?

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  • This short video uses animations and text to highlight the differences between nuclear fission and fusion.
  • Students will learn the differences between the physical processes, fuel type, byproducts, various uses, and the amount of energy that each nuclear reaction produces.
Teaching Tips


  • With simple visuals and explanations, this video is appropriate for a wide range of audiences and ages.
  • There is no audio other than music for this video. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already have a basic understanding of nuclear energy.
  • It may be helpful for students to have some knowledge about nuclear fission before learning about nuclear fusion. 


  • This video could be a helpful resource for students who are researching current and future innovations in clean energy. 
  • Chemistry classes could discuss why uranium and plutonium are the elements that are used for fission and why hydrogen is the best element for fusion. 
  • Pair this resource with this video on the basics of nuclear fission, this video about how nuclear energy works, and this lesson on nuclear energy. 
Scientist Notes
The resource compares the differences between nuclear fission and fusion in terms of the amount of energy they can produce, the fuel type, byproducts, and usage. This is insightful and recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS.ETS1.3 Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
      • HS.ETS1.3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • HS.PS1.8 Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS.PS3.2 Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
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