I was recently asked to assist with structuring and resourcing a task with our junior science team for Year 8 pupils. To round off their Energy topic, they were being tasked with coming up with a renewable energy proposal for an island – imaginary but environmentally blessed (varied coast, waterfalls, mountains, lots of wind, thermal springs etc). Other than the fact that our collection on this topic for this age group is nearing the point at which it should really be weeded, but is also very difficult to source newer titles for, providing material to inform the pupils was relatively easy. Similarly, adapting documents used previously to help pupils collate their information on this topic and use it to build understanding, and therefore a proposal, was not taxing.
However, as one class was ahead of others in terms of covering the syllabus and had a couple of lessons at the end of term to explore the topic further, I was approached for help with organising a debate around Nuclear Energy. We then realised that while we had worked on a public speaking project for Year 10 many years ago, this was an area we knew very little about. With some help from a member of staff who had run debates with rather rambunctious Year 12 students, and the resources used with Year 10 in the past, I put together some Investigate and Construct sheets (both available here in a single download) which the whole class could use as preparation – many of whom were learning remotely once more by this point in term. They appear to have worked well in engaging everyone on the topic and the personalities of the speakers in the class made the debate a success, with one class member even conceding that he had changed his mind as a result of the debate. However, if anyone out there has any experience of planning and running debates that could help going forward, I would love to hear your ideas.