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Database Provider

Author

Vox

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Chemistry, Earth and Space Sciences, Health, Engineering

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New York, New York City

Format

YouTube Video

Why Nuclear Plants Are Shutting Down

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Synopsis
  • This video discusses the closure of a nuclear plant just outside of New York City and the debate over the safety of nuclear plants.
  • It advocates nuclear energy is a safer alternative to fossil fuels, according to the deaths recorded from operating power plants of various types, but it's not safer than solar or wind energy.
  • According to their data, nuclear energy may help solve climate change until renewables can replace them.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This video may provide an opportunity to explore differences in opinion when presented with information and the factors that determine how people make choices and decisions.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The number of deaths recorded from nuclear disasters may be undercounted, as there is likely no data from non-disaster-related illnesses and deaths associated with leaks of radioactive material from active plants, retired plants, or spent fuel storage sites.
  • Natural disasters, power outages, sea level rise, droughts, and floods also make nuclear plants vulnerable to melt-downs and leaks, which are increasing due to climate change.
  • There is still no known solution for permanent safe storage of nuclear waste, which must be stored for thousands of years to reduce its radioactivity, and the locations for storage sites may have environmental justice concerns for residents of those areas.
  • The teacher may need to give an overview of how nuclear energy is generated. 
  • There are ads before and during the video.

Differentiation

  • As an extension, the movie "Indian Point" highlights the environmental risks of nuclear power production. Before watching it, ask students to suggest how nuclear power production can be safer based on the movie.
  • For more knowledge of historical events, students can research some of the nuclear power accidents: Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986), The Mile Island (USA 1979) and Fukushima Daiichi (Japan 2011).
  • Students could investigate energy efficiency and reducing energy waste, which are two other solutions to reduce the amount of energy required. 
  • This table of climate solutions should be explored by students to see the solutions to climate change that are most effective and see how far down on the list nuclear energy is compared to other solutions.
Scientist Notes
The video highlights the contribution of nuclear energy in the energy system, the reason it is dwindling, and the pros and cons associated with it. This resource is insightful, unbiased, and 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.
  • English Language Arts
    • Language (K-12)
      • L.9-12.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
  • Social Studies
    • History
      • History 1 (D2): Students understand major eras, major enduring themes, and historic influences in United States and world history, including the roots of democratic philosophy, ideals, and institutions in the world by analyzing and critiquing major historical eras: major enduring themes, turning points, events, consequences, and people in the history of the world and the implications for the present and future.
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