Who's Afraid of Nuclear Energy? - Game Script Introducing basic concepts of nuclear physics


Background

Nuclear energy generates electricity through a process called nuclear fission. This process uses the energy released when uranium atoms are split, producing heat to make steam. This steam drives turbine generators that generate electricity. A potentially enormous power source, but also potentially devastating in its destructive abilities, nuclear energy remains a very controversial issue today.

Mayor Burke of Townsville has assembled a secret committee consisting of a nuclear physicist, an environmental activist, a historian of nuclear issues, an international atomic energy agency (IAEA) inspector, and a member of the public. These bright minds have come together to discuss one very important issue: Should Townsville construct a nuclear power plant of their own?

Characters

Professor Particles Nuclear Physicist

A professor of nuclear physics, Professor Particles deals with the study of atomic nuclei and their interactions. Many researches on radioactivity consider him a valued lecturer and a world-renowned researcher. Due to his media presence, even laymen unfamiliar with the scientific community know of his resolute position in favor of the use of nuclear energy.

Trivia Fact: Particles' critics call him "Fat Man" after the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.


Your Task

You are completely for building this power plant. You must explain the basic mechanics of nuclear energy, especially its advantages over other forms of energy, and convince the others.


Resources

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Green Greta Lawyer

A lawyer that specializes in sustainability and environmental issues, her name precedes her as an environmental activist. Her many battles in her 20 year career of activism have drawn the attention of both the public and of leaders. In her many media interviews, she always emphasizes the responsibility she feels for leaving behind a better world for her three children.


Your Task

You must show that you're against this power plant. Explain what radioactive waste is and the hazards associated with it.


Resources

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Professor Parvati History Professor Nuclear Physics

A world-renowned professor on the history of nuclear physics, she is the author of the world famous article "Nuclear Catastrophe - Past, Present, and Future" which is quoted daily by opponents of nuclear energy.


Your Task

You must warn the panel of the potential disaster nuclear energy can lead to. Describe three nuclear catastrophes from history and why these accidents happened.


Resources

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Inspector Ion Inspector at IAEA

An inspector at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an international agency established in 1957 by the United Nations and the United States to promote nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and prevent its use for military purposes. With decades of experience dealing with Western powerhouses, third-world dictatorships, and countries all along the spectrum, Ian is no stranger to issues such as pollution, inter-generational equity, and the separation of civil and military energy use.


Your Task

Explain the role of the IAEA in regulating atomic energy use and represent their concerns in ensuring nuclear power would be used only for constructive and not destructive purposes. Make sure to explore their website to understand the IAEA's role, currently and historically.


Resources

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Civilian Sylvia Social Activist

Sylvia has been selected for the panel to represent the views of the general public. A survey company recently identified her as representing approximately 80% of Townsville civilians' views, making her the ideal panel member for her town!


Your Task

You must listen carefully to the other panel members' expert knowledge. You may suggest potential substitutes to nuclear energy.


Resources

Scene - 01

Scene 1: Panel on Nuclear Energy



1.

Public Message

***** TOP SECRET *****

I, Mayor Burke am considering beginning construction on a nuclear power plant to power the city of Townsville and to sell electricity to surrounding cities. You have been assembled here, a panel of experts and representatives of relevant parties, to help me make the decision of whether or not to construct the plant.

Please note this message is HIGHLY confidential and its contents should not leave this room under any circumstances.



2.

Private (a while before next message)

Professor Particles:

You must explain the basic mechanics of nuclear energy, especially its advantages over other forms of energy.

Green Greta:

You must explain what radioactive waste is and the hazards associated with it.

Professor Parvati:

Describe three nuclear catastrophes from history and why these accidents happened.

Inspector Ion:

Explain the role of the IAEA in regulating atomic energy use and represent their concerns in ensuring nuclear power would be used only for constructive and not destructive purposes.

Civilian Sylvia:

You must listen carefully and openly to the other panel members' expert knowledge and ask questions/make observations where appropriate. Your task is to suggest potential substitutes to nuclear energy.



3.

Private (a while before next message)

Professor Particles:

How would you counter Greta's concerns about nuclear waste and the dangers associated with nuclear energy?

Green Greta:

How do you respond to the advantages of nuclear energy Professor Particles' has raised?

Professor Parvati:

What recommendations would you give to Townsville, if they build a reactor, to avoid disaster.

Inspector Ion:

Tell the panel to construct the plant as far away as possible from civilians and from the town, and explain why.

Civilian Sylvia:

Tell the panel what your position is so far, and what argument that's been presented seems to be the most convincing.



4.

Public Message (a while before next message)

Citizens living on the outskirts of Townsville, where the plant would be built, have expressed dissatisfaction and concern with the idea of having a nuclear power plant built so close to them, especially with reference to potential disasters and radioactivity.

Bearing in mind that these citizens don't know all of the facts about nuclear energy, how does this change the deliberation of building the plant?



Vote

[username],after listening to all sides of the panel, do you think Townsville should invest in a nuclear power plant?



Option 1
Yes
Option 2
No


Ending message for when most people voted for option



Option 1

The panel has decided that Townsville will have a brand new nuclear power plant! Construction will begin as soon as possible, with Professor Particles acting as chief advisor in the project. Three cheers for the newly-nuclear Townsville!


Option 2

The panel has decided the proposal and Townsville will not construct a nuclear power plant. It is too dangerous, costly, and we do not want it anywhere near our city!




Discussion Points

  • Discuss the voting results and interesting points that were made in the discussion?
  • Are the risks and costs worth the gain when it comes to nuclear energy?
  • Do you believe that there is a future in nuclear energy?