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Seventh Graders Examine SONGS for Future Debate

19 January 2012 admin 2,256 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Every year, seventh grade students complete an intensive research unit centered on a debate topic. During this unit, students access, process, and evaluate ten resources covering the pros and cons of the issues. Including guest speakers in the unit allows students to connect with adults who have dedicated their lives to studying and communicating about the issue at hand.

This year, students are researching pro and con arguments for the following debate resolution: Among all energy sources, nuclear power is the best choice to meet future world energy consumption needs. Students will write outlines and essays on both sides of the issue. At the end of the unit, students will pick a side and engage in an academic debate on the topic.

What follows is a student perspective on a visit from pro speaker Mr. Christopher Abel, spokesman for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Later in the unit, students also heard from a speaker on the con side of the issue: Ms. Rochelle Becker, executive director for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

By Ariana Stillman, Grade 7

Ding-dong-ding. The bell signaled that it was time for all of the seventh graders at St. Margaret’s to head over to Siller’s Hall. There, a man from SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) waited to give us a presentation on the plant and inform us on how it works. With our debate research binders in hand, we all piled through the small doorway leading into Siller’s Hall. Everyone rushed to the white folding chairs, trying to get good seats next to their friends. In front of us stood a tall man dressed in a green SONGS t-shirt and long green pants. The screen next to him showed a PowerPoint presentation with a picture of the plant.

Mrs. Lori Donchak, a grade 7 English teacher, took the stage and introduced our speaker. His name was Mr. Christopher Abel. As Mrs. Donchak took her seat, we were all excited to get this started. We were poised with a sheet of paper ready and pencil in hand, waiting to hear all the information Mr. Abel had to offer. Click. The first slide popped up. Our pencils moved rapidly as Mr. Abel told us loads of information. All this information would help for our upcoming debate in the spring.

The debate is done every year in the seventh grade, covering a different subject each year. This year, the subject is whether nuclear power is the best choice to meet future world energy consumption needs. We’ve already began to research the subject using different articles, but thanks to the collaborative work of the seventh grade English teachers, Ms. Jeni Johnson and Mrs. Lori Donchak, along with Library Director Mrs. Darla Magaña, we’ve had the privilege to have special guest speakers come to St. Margaret’s to teach us about nuclear energy.

After learning about how the plants make energy, how it is environmentally friendly, and other useful information, Mr. Abel offered to answer any question we had. Questions like how the nuclear reactors affect marine life, and what would happen if radiation leaked out of the plant were some of the many questions the seventh graders asked. Mr. Abel answered these questions with intelligent answers that helped persuade many seventh graders to go pro on the nuclear energy debate.

After an hour of listening and taking notes, we left with at least one page full of valuable information. We also left having learned new things that were unbeknownst to us before. Meagan Cole, a seventh grader, remarked, “I enjoyed learning about how nuclear energy is safe and reliable for our society.”

We are excited to have one more speaker that will come talk to us about the cons of nuclear power, and look forward to discovering new and beneficial information on this fascinating subject.

Click here to view a student perspective on a visit from con speaker Ms. Rochelle Becker, executive director for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.


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