Activity Introduction

smokestacksQuick summary: Students look at the arguments for and against nuclear power, particularly in the context of climate change. Students begin by conducting a ’5 Whys’ investigation into their own impressions of nuclear power. They then undertake a SWOT analysis on a range of statements around nuclear power. Using this information students are then asked to imagine they have been commissioned by either a nuclear power company or by an anti nuclear lobby group to sell the message to the public that nuclear power should either be used or avoided.

These activities “… are an invaluable tool for teachers to address climate change in an educationally relevant, scientifically sound, and action-­based way.” – Tim Flannery (Read more)

Learning goals:

  • Students recognise the arguments for and against nuclear power.
  • Students understand that although nuclear power offers a green energy alternative it comes with significant costs.
  • Students are able to synthesise information and opinion into an advertising campaign.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding.

Cross-curriculum priorities: Sustainability OI.6, OI.7, OI.8.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 7 Science

  • Some of Earth’s resources are renewable, but others are non-renewable (ACSSU116)

Year 8 Science

  • Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135)

Year 7 & 8 Design and Technologies

  • Examine and prioritise competing factors including social, ethical and sustainability considerations in the development of technologies and designed solutions to meet community needs for preferred futures (ACTDEK029)

Syllabus Outcomes: SC4-11PW, SC4-12ES, T4.1.2, T4.1.3, T4.4.1, T4.6.2.

Topic: We Are the Weather Makers

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity and facilitate discussion

Resources required: Internet access, student worksheet, Nuclear power statements.

Digital technology opportunities: Mindmeister or online brainstorming programs, Prezi presentation tool, digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for homework or extension.

Key reading from We Are the Weather Makers: Chapter 28 – Nuclear

Further reading from the book: Chapter 27 – Bright as Sunlight, Light as Wind, Chapter 29 – Hybrids, Minicats and Contrails

Keywords: Nuclear power, energy, climate change, alternative energy.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge:

  • Tim Flannery
  • David Harding, Rose Iser, Sally Stevens
  • Text Publishing and Purves Environmental Fund
  • Climate Council
climate-council-logo textlogo_type purves_environ


Teacher Worksheet

co2-boardTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this activity students will recognise the arguments for and against nuclear power and will understand that although nuclear power offers a green energy alternative, it can come with a cost.

Teacher content information:

Facts about uranium and nuclear power -

  • Uranium is a dense radioactive material that occurs naturally in most rocks, soil and in the ocean in tiny amounts. Its average concentration in the Earth’s crust is two parts per million – more than gold, but still tricky to find.
  • Australia is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium.
  • The main use of uranium is as the fuel source in nuclear power plants to create pollution-free power.
  • While the production of the electricity is pollution-free the construction of nuclear plants themselves are very energy intensive, expensive, take ten years to plan, take ten years to build and no-one wants them in their back yard because when they go wrong (such as Th
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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Would you be willing to live next to a nuclear reactor for the sake of greener energy?


Part 1. Read the NUCLEAR FOR and AGAINST statements from We Are the Weather Makers and participate in the related activity below:

What is your initial response to the question of should the world invest in nuclear power or not? Yes or no:

Work in pairs to conduct a 5 Whys interrogation of your answer.

Part 2. Still working in pairs, read through the Nuclear power statements and conduct a SWOT analysis of these statements. Place the number correlating with each statement into the appropriate quadrant on the table below: is this statement a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity or a Threat to nuclear power?





Do these statements give rise to further questions? Write down three questions you have about nuclear power:

Part 3. Join with another pair to form a small group. In your gro

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