Nuclear debates: Deciding our future


Tatum Luoma and Sam Hicks

Nuclear power has been a divisive topic ever since its conception decades ago. It provides a clean source of energy and releases no harmful emissions. But the fear of the negative effects of radiation and possible nuclear disasters has created an opposition to this energy source. As a result, nuclear energy has been front and center in debates throughout the years.

As they have done for several years now, VHS science teachers Karen Reynosa and Woodward Maxwell are having their students participate debates centered around the pros and cons of nuclear power.

Senior Jake Grajeda enjoyed judging this year’s nuclear debates and, thus far, believes that the environmentalists have a stronger argument. Photo by: Tatum Luoma

The debates are between four separate groups: the city council and a fictional corporation that produces nuclear power, advocating for the use of nuclear energy competing against, citizens and environmentalists who are against the use of nuclear energy.

Senior Jake Grajeda, who helped judge the nuclear debates, shared his opinion on the event: “Personally, I think it’s a great learning opportunity, because you learn so much about an important topic that is happening today.” Grajeda also added that he “finds judging pretty fun because you get to see everyone’s potential.”

Over the course of several weeks, students debate about the many points of contention about nuclear energy, from the funding of nuclear power plants to the environmental consequences. Teams argue their perspectives about whether or not a nuclear power plant should be built in a hypothetical city that the citizens live in.

On the first day of the nuclear debates team’s give an opening statement in which each team gives and overview of their position on the use of nuclear energy and their plan for the building or prevention of a new nuclear power plant. The next three days are question and answer debate days.

Each team is allotted seven minutes of time on the floor to question all teams in an attempt to defend their position and refute opposing ideas. The final day of the nuclear debates consists of closing statements, where teams summarize their overall position and explain their planning for pro or anti nuclear energy.