Case study: The Power of the Atom
Atom not so scary? What are the prospects and opportunities for the development of nuclear energy in the world in the face of climate change? Nuclear power plants, as a way of generating electricity, began to rapidly lose their popularity after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The failure of the power plant reactor in Japan's Fukushima (2011) completed the work and eventually plunged nuclear power. However, the world leaders, as well as the public opinion itself, in countries where nuclear power plants play an important role are divided on this issue. Nuclear power plants raise many concerns. Their action and the threat associated with failures have even become mythical, and around the topic arose a lot of so-called fake news, which do not favor this technology, because they create a climate of fear, threat and social resistance.
Recommended for: secondary schools 16+, university students, adult learners
Tags: nuclear energy, environment safety, cost of energy, sustainable energy
Building block 5. Does a nuclear reactor work like an atomic bomb?
From the history of our humanity, we know mostly two atomic bomb explosions that occurred during the 2nd World War in Japan. The enormity of destruction, human death and misery was so great that any probability of repetition of those events fills us with fear. None of us wanted to experience it now. Is a nuclear reactor as so dangerous as a nuclear weapon? Is the principle of its operation the same or different as the operation of nuclear weapons? According to scientists, in the reactor of the power plant the process of uranium isotope fission is slow, controlled and limited, while nuclear weapon breaks suddenly and uncontrollably. In addition, the content of fissile uranium in the energy reactor is from 3 to 5 percent, and in nuclear weapon 90 percent. So, do we have to be afraid of a nuclear power plant as much as an atomic bomb? Does a nuclear reactor carry the same danger as an atomic bomb? Completing this building block will help students discover the facts on this topic.
1. Various Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/Disadvantages_NuclearEnergy.php [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. Nuclear Energy Facts
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-nuclear-energy-facts.php [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
3. Article about 10 myths about nuclear energy
https://www.anl.gov/article/10-myths-about-nuclear-energy [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
4. Wikipedia about “Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_nuclear_disasters_and_radioactive_incidents [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
5. Wikipedia about Nuclear and radiation accidents and incidents
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_and_incidents [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
1. Reasons Why Nuclear Energy Is Terrible!
2. Bizarre Radioactive fluorescence inside the nuclear reactor
3. Uranium – the most dangerous metal on earth
4. 12 ways HBO changed the Chernobyl
The learning outcomes represent the competences which learners are expected to develop as a result of the training intervention:
1. The learner will be able to understand and explain the key global issues related nuclear energy production.
2. The learner will be able to discuss about the most popular myths about nuclear energy.
4. The learner will be able to discuss environmental issues related to nuclear energy production.
6. The learner will be able to produce (and show understanding of) arguments on both sides of the debate.
5. The learner will be able to understand and provide examples of how motivated cognition influences opinions and the nature of frames.
6. The learner will be able to explain how to recognize bias in texts and videos.
Suggested teaching methods
> Information searching
> Information comparison
> Present arguments
> Apply source- and fact-checking to a set of resources
Suggested learning activities
> At the start of the session, introduce the global perspective of the debate. It is important that the learners stay well aware that their work will be focused on global developments and global issues. These global issues with regard to nuclear energy, nuclear power plant, its advantages and disadvantages, production process, safety for human and environments, the benefits and costs.
> Start a quick round of statements of preference by the learners. It is very likely that based on personal opinions some will be "in favour" of nuclear energy, others - "in favour" of green energy. Based on declared positions, split the class and form two groups.
> Ask each group to go through all provided resources. Let them choose the order. Each group takes notes of key findings and arguments in support of their position and arguments to oppose the other group's position.
> Allow fluidity in the groups. Instruct the learners at the start and remind them several times, that they can change their group based on the facts and arguments they find in the provided resources.
> Ask both groups to make a short presentation of their findings. List arguments pro and con for each position. Force the learners to find an agreement. Seek reasonable compromise and base decisions and proposed solutions on facts.
> Discuss whether it is likely that the "agreed solution" is different in different countries or regions. Why? Can we speak about frames with regard to this issue? How would we define these frames?
> Explain fact-checking and source-checking. Split the class in two groups (you may keep the original groups or shuffle the learners based on the observed group dynamics). Ask each group to re-evaluate a set of 2 resources (articles #2 & #4, and article #3 & video #3, respectively). Each group is to make a short presentation of their findings. Discuss findings. Define and discuss bias and how one can recognize it. Equipped with information from this last exercise on bias, engage the entire class in a quick review of video #1. Evaluate the video in terms of bias.
> Discuss the possible implications of mis- and disinformation for this global debate.
De Facto pillars
Frames and Framing: Explain the concept and ask the learners to reflect whether the debate around nuclear power plants and their safety can be regarded through frames. Attempt to define these frames. Does a nuclear reactor work like an atomic bomb? Does a nuclear reactor carry the same danger as an atomic bomb?
Motivated Cognition: Explain what motivated cognition is and provide examples using the activity just completed (e.g. trusting particular sources, being influenced by...) – list or refer to a list with many possible instances of motivated cognition.
Systemic Causality: Explain Systemic Causality. Ask the learners to reflect and debate whether the global conversation on green energy, conventional energy and nuclear energy exhibits the properties of an issue which falls within the systemic causality pattern.
You have selected a topic from the Disinformation Games area. Please be advised that this area hosts, or links to, resources that contain misinformation or disinformation. The presence of such materials is to assist in developing and sustaining skills for navigating and detecting disinformation. To achieve this goal – and with clear intent – none of the materials are explicitly marked as true or not true.