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Rocket Debate

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We've all heard of "balloon debates", where 4 or 5 students make a case for why they should not be thrown out of a balloon that's losing height. This activity can be expanded to include the whole class with a "rocket debate".
1) Tell the whole class that they are the only surviving members of humanity following an ecological disaster. On the way to their new planet, they discover that there isn't enough air for them all, so 4 or 5 need to be thrown out.
2) Allow the students time to prepare a short speech to make a case for their own survival. Allow them to take on any role they choose (e.g. historical figure, famous scientist etc) but make sure nobody says something like "I'm the pilot and nobody else knows how to land the ship" -blackmail is not acceptable (though bribery may be depending on your inclinations) n.b. as the teacher, you are perfectly justified in making YOURSELF indispensible. Have a few identities ready for any of your less imaginative students (in my experience, there's nearly always one)
3) The students deliver their speeches and take questions from other group members, before voting on who to throw out.

Laurence Whiteside, Cambridge Regional College, UK

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