Lesson Plan: Pros and Cons of Hydroelectric Power
Give students 15 minutes to jot down answers to the question "Why is electricity important in our lives?" Have a few students read their answers to the class. Then ask: Is there a downside to creating electricity?
Direct students to the topic Hydroelectricity: The Power of Water on the CBC Digital Archives website and have the class view the clip "Flowing water, flowing power", keeping the following question in mind: Should the power needs of society be more important than environmental and social concerns?
Outline the Opportunity
Divide the class into two roughly equal groups. Have them view the following clips:
"Powering an industry", "From Honeymoon City to Hydro City", "Hydro chez nous", "'The biggest giveaway in history'", "River takes a new path", "Cheap power comes at a cost", "Harnessing the tides", "Electricity from the Niagara, " "Hydro Dams Flood Farmland," "Newfoundland loses Churchill falls ruling," "Tidal power slow to catch on," and "Hydro dam leaves factory high and dry."
As they view, one group will search for the benefits of hydroelectric power plants and the other will search for the drawbacks. The students should note the names and locations of the power plants they investigate.
Revisit and Reflect
Divide the class into pairs made up of one person from the "benefits" group and one from the "drawbacks" group. Have each pair share information from their research. At the end of the discussion, have each pair decide whether the pro or con side of the debate is more persuasive. Then poll the groups to learn which view dominates in the class. Have students write a summary of their conclusions.
Students write a letter to the editor expressing their opinions about hydroelectric power. They can make a general comment or write about a specific plant.