Teaching Ideas for Teachable Moments from Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Power Plant Problems

Tie the planned lesson components with the event. Take news paper or use Internet if available in classroom. There are news hits being added every few seconds actually. Not knowing what grade or content or planned lesson….

Here are the big pieces of science this event touches:

Earth Science (some of the weakest Science test scores in KY fall in this area):

Plate Tectonics as evidenced that Japan’s coastline had been permanently changed and moved,

earth quake principles of inner core of earth heated and thus causing earth to moves along fault lines (New Madrid fault affects West Ky greatly and caused Reelfoot Lake and the MS river to run backwards!!!);

San Andreas famous fault line in CA causes earthquakes often and that the San Andreas fault could significantly affect CA and US just like this Japan EQ in Our lifetimes,

how volcanoes are a part of this process and are hot spots all around the Earth called Ring of Fire.

Procedures for EQ there in school where you are teaching… Falling debri is the most dangerous for West KY and central US because unlikely that the crack in earth’s surface would happen there and tsunami won’t hit unless you are in a coastal area either.


Physical Science – understanding nuclear power, its process chemically and physically, nuclear power plant design & it’s dangers, why it has to be cooled, what happens if not cooled, nuclear explosion and it’s aftermath, radiation & what it is & how it affects life,….

Nuclear plant problems Could affect All of KY – research KY and current state of affairs on building nuclear power plants. Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant and underground storage of nuclear waste – how an Earthquake could cause problems in KY

LINK Department of Energy – Kentucky The Department of Energy’s Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah is a primary producers of nuclear fuel used in civilian nuclear power … www.energy.gov > DOE Home


Of 5 nuclear plants in Japan, 2, last I read, were Already compromised and Not Cooling – that means if the inner reactor is not strong enough to hold the nuclear reactions inside the explosion will cause nuclear fallout that will kill every living thing in a large radius around it – burn them to a crisp, many within seconds in the center zone, cause radiation sickness and slower death from radiation exposure to the surrounding 2nd zone, and slowly cause cancers to the 3rd surrounding zone- like Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Zones would be circular around the plant (epicenter of the explosion) so it Is important for students to know so they are not ignorant of warnings….. Can decide for themselves to be aware of nuclear affects and get away if explosions take place. Explosions of the plants have already happened in Japan but the steel inner cores were holding and scientists trying to figure out how to cool after the power outage did not allow cooling as in Plan A…… Chernobyl can be researched online too. All of this is very heavy but the reason our students need to know and not be ignorant of REAL events and realities in our world.

LINK Japanese officials decide to release nuclear vapor out of Nuclear Power to TRY to prevent meltdown, explosion and many deaths like in Chernobyl. http://yhoo.it/hDIGuK

If you have computer access you could do a KWL then let students Think Pair Share. Working with a partner is good research in pairs for a few minutes and come back to report what they learned… It is important for them to learn knowledge is so vast and teachers don’t know it all so inquiry research and learning together is best.

Young ones???

Could discuss this disaster as compared to natural disasters they have had first hand experience, as with tornadoes, thunder storms, floods, power outages because of ice storms last year….

Peoples and the need

– to plan for these possibilities,

– to know how to act if earth quake happens, and what they would do right there in their school and home (New Madrid locally),

what to do after if anything, to heed warnings like Japanese were warned of tsunami and to leave their homes from nuclear power plant problems….

Mini-lectures and science in the news and story telling appropriate here to share what you know about Earth Science and things written above.

Discuss locall KY applications

Article regarding KY Senate and Nuclear Power Plants March 2011 Kentucky Senate Approves Building of Nuclear Power Plants Energy > Nuclear Power Environment > State Government Written By: H. Sterling Burnett Publication date: 03/10/2011 Publisher: The Heartland Institute The Kentucky Senate has approved a bill to end a moratorium on nuclear power plants being built in the state. The bill, sponsored by Bob Leeper (I-Paducah), passed the Senate on February 8 by a 31-5 vote. Kentucky state law currently prohibits nuclear power plants from being built in the state until the U.S. government opens a permanent storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. Although support in the Senate was strong, the bill faces a more uncertain fate in the House, where similar bills have failed in recent sessions. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has said he supports lifting the moratorium, which means the fate of nuclear power in the state resides in the House. Leeper Touts Jobs Leeper has substantial experience with the nuclear power industry, as his district is home to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which enriches and reprocesses uranium for use as nuclear fuel. Leeper characterizes the legislation as a jobs bill. The construction of just a single nuclear power plant would generate thousands of permanent and temporary jobs in the state. However, Leeper argues, even if no nuclear plant is ever built in Kentucky, ending the moratorium would increase the state’s attractiveness to suppliers that contribute to the construction, maintenance, and operation of nuclear plants. Nuclear Renaissance The Kentucky debate is just one of many currently taking place in the 50 states. For example, both houses of the Minnesota legislature have approved a bill to end the state’s moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction. The bills are currently in conference committee before submission to Gov. Mark Dayton (D). The nuclear industry is undergoing a worldwide renaissance, as new plant designs open up the possibility of safer, less expensive power plants. Sixty new nuclear plants are under construction, mostly in Asia. More than 20 new reactors have been proposed in the United States. Jim Waters, vice president of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, a Kentucky government watchdog group, said the time has come for the Kentucky House to help end the moratorium. “While the Kentucky Senate has tried for a couple of years now to advance the nuclear power option, the House has dragged its feet,” Waters said. “Nuclear power can now be provided to the citizens of America in a safe and efficient way. We need this low-cost source of energy to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.” H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., (Sterling.Burnett@ncpa.org) is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. See more articles by H. Sterling Burnett

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