By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Should the United States send astronauts back to the moon for further exploration or should we look at the next space frontier — Mars?
Airmen from the 22nd Space Operations Squadron held a lively debate on that topic for an audience of six graders learning persuasive speech at Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Feb. 18.
“The purpose of the debate was to expose the students to a real-world space related issue so they could take the information back to class and write a persuasive essay,” said Allison Benjamin, Space Foundation, aerospace education specialist. “They are also learning that the topic of space can be used to inspire and teach across all content disciplines in school.”
The moon versus Mars debate stayed true to the middle school’s outer space based theme while providing educational entertainment for the children. The school’s partnership with the Space Foundation, which incorporates a space-themed approach for innovative learning, provided the backdrop for the space exploration debate.
“When I was first contacted by the educational specialist at the Space Foundation, I knew that this debate was something that we should take part in,” said Capt. Wade McGrew, 22nd SOPS.
The four 22nd SOPS Airmen split into opposing teams of two, with each team choosing a side to debate for — pro-moon exploration versus pro-Mars.
“Both teams did extensive studying for the debates,” Captain McGrew said. “We understood that the students weren’t NASA scientists, but we still needed to provide accurate facts and figures.”
Each team member was given three minutes to state their argument and try to convince the students to take their position. Each team was then allowed additional time to rebut the other teams points.
Afterward, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Some questions included how humans can survive Mars’ toxic atmosphere and the affect of its gravity. The students showed enthusiasm at the topic, gave a hearty round of applause and some even stayed behind to personally engage the Airmen on the subject.
“I was very pleased with the results of the debate, not only because my team won, but because the students were so attentive and excited about participating,” Captain McGrew said. “Watching everyone raise their hand and show enthusiasm meant a lot to me.”
Ms. Benjamin said she was thankful for the community outreach offered to the school by the Airmen and that they are great role models for the students.
In like manner, Captain McGrew expressed the importance of why Airmen should take the time to volunteer and help out the community when they can.
“Going beyond the office and into the community to help others builds character and helps us become better members of society,” the captain said. “Airmen who participate in the community can take great pride in knowing that they have positively affected someone’s life.”