English 12 students in two of Rick Warren's classes discussed the benefits and shortcomings of solar energy, wind power, geothermal energy, tidal power, biomass energy and nuclear power via teleconferencing with a high school class in London during the 90-minute Annual Cross Atlantic Alternative Energy Debate today.
They faced off against students at the Oak Parks High School in Newbury Park, outside of London. Their teacher, Mina Patel, worked with her science students to participate in the debate.
The debate began at 9 a.m. Scotia time and 2 p.m. London time.
Here are the nine presentations prepared by teams of students in the class (PDF):
After an hour of back-and-forth discussions, abbreviated by occasional lost connections, the students on each side of the Atlantic stopped their presentations in order to "vote" on their favorite/most logical/most economical/most environmental form of alternative energy.
The results of the class surveys on both sides of the Atlantic were eye-opening if not unpredictable:
students, living in a country with abundant space
and land, favored these alternative forms of energy in this order:
The students at
Oaks Park High School in England, which has far
less space and land mass, favored these forms of energy in this
The survey was followed by further discussions and efforts to convince the other side.
The English students asserted, after hearing the results of the surveys, that nuclear is superior because uranium is abundant and nuclear power is reliable and efficient - it takes a tiny amount to power many homes. "The cost is low," they said, adding that uranium the size of a golf ball can power a family of four for a lifetime.
They also said the waste is a minimal problem and there is technology to reuse some of it in the nuclear process again.
Scotia-Glenville's students fired back, saying that wind, solar and geothermal, which all rely on open spaces and ample real estate, are superior because they produce many jobs and are readily abundant - without threatening the environment.
Despite high start-up costs for the three types of energy, the students said the three sources of power together could provide a majority of the power used in the United States.
Warren added that political will was a force to be dealt with in the US. As long as fossil fuels like natural gas and oil are relatively inexpensive, it would be difficult for any other sources of energy to get traction in the economy. Nuclear power plants have not been built since the scares of the late 1970s.
This type of program between Scotia-Glenville and the students in London, which was also held last year, is designed to meet a few objectives:
▪ Involve students from different countries to gain perspective through research on alternative energy options
▪ Allow students to debate which alternative energy should get more resources / funding – which energy source should we use in the future and why?
▪ Encourage students to compare and contrast what their country is doing to develop alternative energy sources.
▪ Educate students on the political, geographical and cultural components often involved with creating policy.
▪ Enable students to build relationships with other students from other countries.
▪ Promote the use of Video Conferencing technology using advanced, high-performance R&E networks exclusively dedicated to supporting teaching and learning in K-12 schools worldwide.
This debate was organized and delivered by NYSERNet, Internet2, and JANET, which are part of a global infrastructure of not-for-profit research and education networks (Research & Education (R&E) Network) enabling international collaboration opportunities for students, their families, and communities, no matter where they are located.
The debate is part of the 2012 Spring Internet2 Member Meeting, which is being held April 22-25 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
Here are photos from the Annual Cross Atlantic Alternative Energy Debate. Click on each photo to enlarge it: