Nuclear Power: Homeschool Assignment

Instructor: Megan Sarkisian
In a brief essay, students adopt one of three perspectives weighing the benefits and risks of nuclear power plants. They explain their own perspectives and then compare and contrast it differing perspectives.

Assignment Instructions for Students

For the last fifty years, no new nuclear power plants have been commissioned in the United States. Though nuclear power is clean-burning, efficient, and abundant enough to fulfill many of our energy needs, concerns about its safety have always prevented it from being more widely accepted. Today, many scientists argue that nuclear power is safe enough to be put into widespread use. However, polls indicate that citizens are still largely against it, and no one can say that the safety risks have been wholly eliminated. Is it an acceptable risk in the face of impending climate change? Or should we keep looking for other alternate energy sources while continuing our fossil fuel use?

Perspective One: Nuclear energy is the only source of fuel that can realistically shift the world away from fossil fuel dependence. It is cleaner and better for the environment than fossil fuels.

Perspective Two: No design for a nuclear power plant is without the risk of accidents, and accidents at nuclear plants have the potential to leak deadly radiation into the environment for thousands of years. We should find safer sources of energy.

Perspective Three: Investment in nuclear energy is good for the future of our species. It's hard to imagine spaceships and off-world energy grids without the technologies developed through nuclear power.

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