HOW WE debate
Every year, sixth graders at Shady Side’s Middle School participate in the Energy Quest project, which assigns each student a role to play in one of two environmental case studies: a proposed Marcellus shale gas well in O’Hara Township or a proposed housing development using renewable wind energy in Indiana Township.
Acting as town officials, industry consultants, town residents, health experts and environmentalists, students research both sides of a complex real-world issue, evaluate scientific claims and craft arguments for what they believe represents the best course of action for the town. In mock town hall meetings, they present their arguments to zoning board members, who decide if the proposal will be approved, and participate in a respectful, comprehensive discussion of the issues.
Energy Quest is a truly interdisciplinary learning experience – one in which students work with faculty across several disciplines and apply their knowledge from science, math, social studies, library studies and English. Students develop a sense of civic responsibility and learn to craft and deliver a persuasive, research-backed argument – skills that will be valuable throughout their lives.