Debating Cultural Issues

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Third-graders at Bayville Intermediate School are learning about cultural issues across the world, starting with topics right here in the United States.
 
Students in Marie Fonzo’s class strengthened their research and debate skills while learning about various cultures and the individual problems with which they are afflicted. The drought in California was used as the basis for a class project that incorporated many skills that are honed in the third-grade curriculum.
 
Working in teams, the class was tasked with generating ideas to fix the drought and save water. Students wrote research articles explaining their ideas and presented their papers to the class in a debate format. Classmates voted for the proposal they thought was the best.
 
One team suggested building an underground pipeline to reach each of the 50 states. They determined that the water to the pipeline would come from rainwater, hurricanes and melted snow. 
 
Another team proposed that people rip out the grass and plants in front of their homes and replace them with plants that require less water to thrive.
 
Two teams brainstormed the same idea, to filter out salt and debris from Pacific Ocean water to make it safe for household use. One team proposed using a shipping service to bring that water to the homes, while the other team wanted that water to filter into each of the city's water towers.
 
Ms. Fonzo said that the students gained valuable experience from this project, including public speaking, research and writing. “The children had to ensure that hard evidence was found prior to writing their presentations, in order to persuade the other teams to vote for them,” she said.
 
The idea to build a pipeline received the most votes from the class, for the team’s persuasiveness and because the solution benefits the entire country.