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Nuclear: High power, hard to handle

Switch Energy, American Geosciences Institute

This video reviews key points as well as pros and cons of nuclear power.

Video length is 2:21 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Consider using the Switch Energy website to have students do a research project on the pros and cons of different types of energy sources. Then, as a class they can create an energy portfolio.
  • This video clip could encourage student researching other energy sources and comparing / contrasting their pros and cons. This could be followed by http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/interactive/our-energy-system/ - to see how the U.S. uses energy and where nuclear power falls on the scale.
  • Another great CLEAN resource is the activity called the Great Energy Debate.

About the Science

  • Nuclear energy generates about 20 percent of the electricity in the U.S., about 80 percent in France, and a smaller amount in most other developed countries, with zero CO2 emissions. Because nuclear energy is so much more powerful than any other energy source, its capacity to generate electricity is huge. But containment and treatment and disposal of spent fuel presents significant cost and public safety issues.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    The description of several different aspects of nuclear energy is extremely detailed and valid. The interviews deal with prices, US current situation, waste management.
    In the “We have to look at a future where renewables and nuclear serve our societies well” video, incorrect information is given regarding the prices of various energy sources. The person being interviewed says that wind energy is double the price of nuclear, and solar energy much more than that. Recent data however (https://www.awea.org/falling-wind-energy-costs) show that wind is now actually the cheaper energy source, with solar being about the same price as nuclear.

About the Pedagogy

  • Future lessons to accompany these videos are planned for this website.
  • Several other video clips on nuclear energy are provided along with this clip from the Switch Energy project that could aid an educator implementing this in segments into their classrooms.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • High-definition video both on desktop and on large screen.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Home page for the Switch Energy project: http://www.switchenergyproject.com/index.php

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.A1:Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

HS-ETS1.C1:Criteria may need to be broken down into simpler ones that can be approached systematically, and decisions about the priority of certain criteria over others (trade-offs) may be needed

HS-PS1.C1:Nuclear processes, including fusion, fission, and radioactive decays of unstable nuclei, involve release or absorption of energy. The total number of neutrons plus protons does not change in any nuclear process.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Energy and Matter

HS-C5.5:In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.

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