Links for Learning
1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and
This months Link for Learners will support high school
- Religion Christian life-styles; service
- Social Studies current events
- Science radioactivity; weather patterns
- Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs such as:
Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes;
seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find some of this material useful in initiating
discussion around the dinner table, in home study or at family
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions
or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from
the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners.
Nuclear power plant
What Happened at Chernobyl?
The nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl power plant and the subsequent
radioactive fallout stand as a tragedy of epic proportions. Read this
months article first for a sense of the enormity of the accident.
Make notes and then share thoughts on the article with your class
or group to ensure a general understanding of just what happened in
Chernobyl in 1986.
Review news sources to research the background to the accident. (At
the end of every Links for Learners, youll find an extensive
list of general news sources.) An Internet search in the Yahoo search
engine under "Chernobyl" will provide a number of leads.
Visit the Soviet
Archives Exhibit of the United States Library of Congress, where
the Chernobyl accident is described as one of the greatest industrial
accidents of all time. See the print resources listed at the end of
this Links for several additional research sources.
Research the causes
of the accident. Youll find links to related sites as well.
The accident resulted in:
- 20,000,000 people exposed to high levels of radiation
- 5,000 immediate or direct deaths
- 300,000 more projected deaths
- 800,000 children at risk for leukemia
Find a map of the region, either in your library or online.
Make a photocopy so that you can draw on it, or make a transparency
and project the map onto a screen. Mark the site of the nuclear power
plant and the neighboring cities and towns mentioned in the article.
Draw several circles around the power plant, one with a radius of
perhaps five to 10 miles from the center, another further out at about
With colored markers, shade the population centers within the circles.
The author tells us that everything within a 70-mile radius of the
Chernobyl blast site was contaminated with radiation and continues
so even today. Reference
maps will give you the areas of major contamination as well as
the path of the radioactive clouds disbursed from the blast. A Belarus
Web site will also provide maps and further reference data.
Compare the Chernobyl map to a map of your own city or region. See
Maps.com, where you can subscribe
to an educational map service or buy individual maps online. Photocopy
a map of your area, then draw circles with the same radii and see
how the population centers compare to those of the Chernobyl region.
Can you get a sense of how enormous the results of the tragedy are
when you compare it to your own geography?
Why Do the Children Suffer?
Children are so often the unintended but very real victims of war, disaster,
violence and ignorance in our world. The children of the Chernobyl
region were, and continue to be, deeply affected by the nuclear
blast there. Touching, indeed tragic, letters
from the children make the accidents effects real for
those of us who live elsewhere in the world. These letters are
published online by Index for Censorship, an online magazine
promoting freedom of speech. Chernobyls
Childrens Project: Cork, Ireland (a registered charity)
is another site for letters, paintings, poems, photos and video
clips about the children who suffer in Chernobyl. (Be aware
that some of the photos might be disturbing.)
Can you find parallels in history and current events
to what happened to the children at Chernobyl? Princess
Diana was well known for her efforts to help the victims
of land mines in Africa and other countries. Many were children.
In the United States, the Vietnam
Veterans of America Foundation leads the U.S. Campaign to
Ban Land mines.
In 1995, Craig Kielburger founded Free
the Children when he was just 13. Free the Children was started
to end child labor in Pakistan, but has since expanded its reach.
You can read about the many projects of the organization and how Craig
started it on their Web site.
The war in Vietnam made victims of countless children. So have so
many other world conflicts: Kosovo, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland.
Americas own Civil War made orphans and victims of so many children.
The book Reluctant Witnesses: Childrens Voices From the Civil
War contains letters from these children.
Teens Spearhead Efforts to Help the Children of Chernobyl
Ireland initiated outreach efforts back in 1990 to aid the children
of Chernobyl. Now the United States and Europe have followed Irelands
lead in sponsoring outreach programs to offer these children a respite
from their suffering and isolation.
The Irish effort began with ideas presented by teenagers exploring
youth ministry projects. Look for parallels to the efforts to heal
the children of Chernobyl. Teens can be proud to show that they have
initiated peace efforts, charitable activities and service projects
in a variety of places and situations on the local, national and international
The Los Angeles Times recently
reported (April 19, 1999) that in the midst of the recent hostilities
and atrocities in Yugoslavia, teens in the city of Pristina established
a peace house where Serbian and ethnic Albanian teenagers could sit
to share their interest in peace. Participants overcame their differences
and created a common bond strengthened by music and talk. Ironically,
the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia has put at least a temporary end to
organization includes among its many environmental concerns efforts
to inform the public on nuclear hazards. "Pathways to Destruction"
on its Web site will lead you to research information on Chernobyl.
Reading through the site may offer you ideas on how teens can be a
force toward peace and service for the children of the world.
Your reading and research will give you a base of information to
share in your classroom or group. Brainstorm, then, for ideas on how
you can initiate actions toward healing and service in your own locale.
For example, child labor is a practice in a number of world countries.
How can you be sure that the athletic shoes you wear, or the coffee
you drink, are produced without unfair child labor practices? Organizations
such as Sweatshop Watch
America monitor sweatshop activities throughout the world. You
can join their organizations, raise money to support their cause or
find ways to take action. Find out what companies require a code of
conduct with their suppliers when they sign a purchase order.
Print Resources About This Topic
Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village,
Serge Schmemann, Vintage Books, New York, 1997. The author, once the
New York Times bureau chief in Moscow, reconstructs his familys
Russian heritage and history.
The Legacy of Chernobyl, Zhores Medvedev, WW Norton, New York,
1990. A thorough account of what happened at Chernobyl, written by
one of the scientists involved with the situation.
Reluctant Witnesses: Childrens Voices from the Civil War,
Emmy E. Werner, Westview Press, Colorado, 1998. Parallel to Chernobyl,
another account of how children suffered in a major historical event.