1 and 2
1. As students are entering the classroom, have these
questions posted on the board for students to respond
a. How would you define risk?
b. When is reducing risk worthwhile? What factors might
make it undesirable to reduce risk?
c. What is an acceptable amount of pollution?
2. Discuss the answers to these questions as a group.
They are very open-ended questions, which should hopefully
spark some good debate. If there is not enough discussion,
try asking students about risks they can directly relate
to. For example, teenagers die in accidents every year.
Should we not allow teens to drive? Remind them of the
research they did at the beginning of the year demonstrating
how much energy consumption goes along with everyday
3. This is where a lot of the lessons from the quarter
will begin to come together. Keeping in mind the ideas
of conservation of energy, and the level of energy consumption
in our society, plus the risks involved in coal burning,
introduce the concept of clean-coal to your students.
Clean-coal is basically a generic term relating to new
technologies designed to reduce the amount of pollutants
released when burning coal. All of them, of course, cost
money, which influences the decisions to implement them.
Students should research clean-coal technologies and
with a fact sheet, including the following
pieces of information. They should look for a minimum
of three technologies. For each one, describe the technology
and how it works. Include figures for the cost of the
technology, the emissions that can be reduced and the
amount by which they can be reduced. Students should
also include information about how common these technologies
are used in today’s power plants and factories.
5. Along with the fact sheet, students need to write
a short paper stating and defending their position on
the use of these technologies, keeping in mind their
cost and their effectiveness. Should they be required
of all power plants and coal burning industries? Why
or why not? Make sure your arguments are backed up by
facts from your research!
6. Allow the remainder of this day and the following
day for research and completion of the fact sheet and
Once students have completed their work and turned
it in, you might want to debate the issue as a class.
Although this could be a very political debate, it
is important that the students use their science
background to argue their point. We live in a world
where our political issues require a technical background
in order to fully understand the entire picture!
Warm up questions
Use of scientific reason during debate
Here are some suggestions for the fact sheet and the
1. Is all the information requested included on the fact
2. Is the information well organized and presented effectively,
using tables or graphs when applicable?
3. Does the student state her/his position clearly?
4. Is the position well supported by facts gathered by
5. Is the technical information presented correctly?
Completion of the fact sheet and the
position paper if not completed in class.