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Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#1367. Science Debate for Kids

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Tue Oct 26 18:40:25 PDT 1999 by Brian Beckenstein (beckb@massed.net).
Igo Elementary School, Foxboro, MA
Activity Time: 1 hour
Concepts Taught: Conservation of land, learning how to debate

I am a 2nd grade teacher. Our class has been learning about conservation - sharing the land with animals and plants so we can live together.

I recommend reading the book, Mousekin’s Lost Woodland to the class and discuss how one neighbor destroyed the habitat for the animals while the other neighbor conserved the land for the animals.

Tell the class that they are going to pretend to be members of the town council and pass out the following sheet:


Welcome to the Town Council
You are a member of the Town Council. Today, you will hear a debate about what should happen to a large wooded area in your town.
Many people have gathered at the Town Council. Some are there to support the building of a water plant that would be built in the woods. Unfortunately, the town has never had its own water plant. The townspeople have to pay high taxes for their water. However, if the water plant is built, the people will not have to pay high taxes. Also, the water plant will provide better quality of water for the town. The people are asking you to support the plan to build a water plant in their town.
However, the only place it can be built is in the woods.
There are also people at the meeting who do not like the idea of a water plant being built in the woods.
They are concerned about the wildlife (animals and plants). They are asking you not to support the plan to build the water plant.
As a member of the Town Council you have to decide what to do. Should you support the plan to build the water plant in the woods or not support the plan?
Is their a way in which everyone could benefit?
Decide on what to do and be sure to support your decision with many examples.
(There is no wrong or right answer).

After discussing the problem, break the class into 2 groups:
Those who want the water plant and those who don't.
Give time for each group to collaborate.
Go over the rules of a debate (taking turns talking, listening to one another and; most importantly, supporting your viewpoint with many examples.

Afterwards (next day) have the class write in their journals about the debate and what decision they would make.

Remember to remind the children about the story and how one neighbor was able to build a house in the woods and yet still share the land with all the woodland creatures:
-trees were left standing
-piles of brush were stacked for animal shelter
-bushes of berries were planted for birds
-wildflowers grew beside small paths