Newly posted Feb. 2015.
Students will strengthen their analytic and questioning skills through this lesson, as well as see how humans can profoundly impact the environment.
This lesson can be used to study Chernobyl, Fukushima, or to do a compare/contrast on the two nuclear accidents.
1. This lesson starts with an 18-slide PowerPoint that focuses on four strange photographs related to Chernobyl: an abandoned music classroom, a pack of wolves roaming abandoned streets, a man in full-body protection, and two people sitting on an examination table with their necks bandaged. The first photo is used to show students the difference between writing a “thick” question and a “thin” question on each picture. For the next three photos, students write their own (with discussion if they are struggling). This is not only to get their curiosity up but to help them strengthen their questioning skills. A reproducible student form is included to help you guide them through this process.
2. Students will hunt for answers to their own thick questions using the 4-page article “Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant: The Accident.” (You may choose to have them hunt using online resources. However, this option was more dependable in my setting.) The article is provided in a black-and-white version and also in a color version. Both the B&W and color versions are provided in two formats: Word, which is easy to edit, and PDF, which is easy to load onto computers or tablets.
3. A second 19-slide PowerPoint, “Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident,” adds more background information and context, and gives you a vehicle for clarifying information as needed. It also explains WHY THE SOVIET UNION WAS PLACING SO MUCH DEPENDENCE ON NUCLEAR POWER an an energy source.
4. My favorite PowerPoint from this lesson is “In the Shadow of Chernobyl: Ghost Town of Pripyat.” It has 40 slides, and I love it just because it’s full of fascinating photos. Your students will view lots of bizarre shots of the abandoned town, the amusement park (set to open just a couple of days after the disaster), classrooms, a stadium, a swimming pool, a hospital, apartments, daycare, etc. (You could have students guess what each location had been before it was abandoned and deteriorated!) The final 6 slides show side-by-side photographs of specific locations “before” and “after” – the “after” photos taken in 2012.
5. Also included is a 22-slide PowerPoint on Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident which occurred after the tsunami of 2011. As with Chernobyl, there is an “exclusion zone,” and again you see animals roaming the streets and many bizarre images of abandoned places.
6. A 3-page article, “Life in Fukushima radioactive exclusion zones,” gives students the information with which to compare/contrast Chernobyl to Fukushima. As with the article on Chernobyl, it is provided in a black-and-white version and a color version. Both versions are provided in the two formats: Word and PDF.
7. The detailed lesson plan (3 pages) also includes a fourth page with an alternative graphic organizer if you would like a break from having students use Venn Diagrams for compare/contrast work.