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Author

MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Health

Resource Types

  • Podcast, 15 minutes, 15 seconds
  • Worksheet
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Lesson Plan
  • Data

Regional Focus

Global

Format

PDF

Nuclear Power and Climate Change

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Synopsis
  • This lesson about nuclear power includes student pages, discussion questions, risk analysis activities, and a data analysis exercise. 
  • Students will also learn about the global distribution of nuclear power, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons, and nuclear accidents. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The materials included with this resource make it easy for educators to adapt it to many subject areas. 
  • A full transcript of the podcast is available.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The link in the activities section of the Dive Deeper tab is broken.
  • The link to the EPA's website in the podcast notes is broken.
  • Students should be familiar with renewable energy sources and fossil fuels.

Differentiation

  • Students could conduct a poll to find out students' opinions about the safety of nuclear energy prior to beginning the lesson.
  • Science and social studies classes could discuss the current storage system for nuclear waste and research the sites for this waste to see if there are risks for contamination of groundwater, soil, or Indigenous lands.
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive map on global nuclear power generation, this video that explains how nuclear power works, and this video on nuclear energy's role in stopping climate change.
Scientist Notes
A transcript, an educator guide, and additional resource links are provided. In the podcast, an MIT expert presents an overview of nuclear energy production and nuclear technologies. A lot of material is covered in this podcast, including the history of nuclear energy production, new advancements in nuclear energy technologies, risks associated with nuclear technologies, and ways that communities and countries use nuclear technologies. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 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.
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