Scientific Debate

The Socratic Method

What is the Socratic Method?

It is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to focus on an alternative approach to a similar topic.

Each year students participate in a scientific debate. The topics can include, but are not limited to, the safety of cell phone radiation – global warming – GMO organisms – life on other planets – ethanol, or any topic relevant to current science with ample resources of information. The debate requires students to begin with a position statement. After a position is determined, students gather relevant research on the specific topic from appropriate, reliable sources. Those resources are placed in a team folder and evaluated before proceeding. Next, students organize their information in a fact sheet and prepare and opening statement. The fact sheet and opening statement are exchanged with the opposing team. Students create questions based on the opposing team’s fact list and prepare an outline of a closing statement. Students are also required to prepare visuals. Finally the two groups of two to four students debate their topic orally while the other students (citizen scientists) record presented facts and evaluate their value to determine their individual position on the topic.
The research is conducted, shared and submitted electronically. The debate is presented orally and visually and scored via rubric.



Assigned a Position Statement

Students have selected their own groups and topics are randomly assigned.


Research Articles in Support of Position

A top score requires students to research both digital and printed media and have identified 16-18 articles that clearly support their position statement. They have read the articles and digitally highlighted two or three of the strongest, supporting facts for presentation in an argument of their position and is submitted digitally.


Prepare a Fact Sheet and Opening Statement

A top score requires students to prepare a digital list of 16-18 key facts from the highlighted research component that shows a strong support for their position statement. Students must also create a digital opening statement utilizing the provided model which summarizes their position and contains the strongest supporting, factual evidence (5-6 facts.)



Create Questions and Outline of Closing Statement

A top score requires students to construct 14+, well written questions based on the opposing team’s fact list. Students also create a digital closing statement utilizing the provided model which summarizes their position, includes the strongest supporting, factual evidence and contains at least two errors from the opposing team (at the time of the presentation.)


Prepare Visuals

A top score requires students created at least four (4) visuals (3 non-traditional), that are clear/easily understood and are presented at the appropriate time. Non-Tradition visual include physical models, demonstrations, interviews, projects images. etc.


Deliver Oral Presentation

The individual student must demonstrate exceptional knowledge of topic through their specific questions, appropriate responses and frequent, unprompted participation in oral arguments.

A significant portion of the grade is based on the student’s oral presentation of topic knowledge. While the students have already selected their groups, it is an activity with many individual parts. Students may be offered class time for collaboration, but it should not be expected.


* Students are provided with a digital copy of the rubric at the beginning of this activity.

 Students will participate in the debate only once during the academic year, but may serve as citizen scientists multiple times.