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Deep-Space Diplomacy

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 85 minutes

Materials: Minimal

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Space agencies from around the world are looking towards the future of deep-space exploration, beyond the International Space Station. Canada has committed to participating in international space exploration efforts that aim to push humanity farther into the solar system.

However, the importance and benefits of deep-space exploration are debated.

Mission description

Debates are an important part of decision making. A debate explores a complex issue and presents information from both sides of an argument.

The debate component used for this activity is called the rebuttal. Rebuttal is defined as contradicting, refuting, or presenting a counter-argument.

Rebuttals involve explaining why the other side's arguments are flawed. This can include identifying arguments as factually, morally or logically flawed, or irrelevant to the question debated.

Rebuttals must not involve ridiculing the person or the argument presented. A weak rebuttal is not communicated clearly or with focus, uses poor evidence, and does not address the contradictions in the first argument. A strong rebuttal is articulated clearly, uses facts and evidence to dismantle the validity of the other viewpoint, identifies flaws in the argument, anticipates the other speaker's next arguments, and is clearly presented.


Breakdown Duration (minutes)
Introduction to activity 5 minutes
Research for debate questions 30 minutes
Round 1 15 minutes
Round 2 15 minutes
Round 3 15 minutes
Wrap-up 5 minutes
Total 85 minutes


To familiarize participants with critical thinking and to understand the complexities of space exploration decisions.


By the end of the activity, participants will be able to:

Mission preparation


Mission instructions

The basic structure of the debate is as follows:

Debate topics

Round one

Deep-space exploration is beneficial for Earth.

Round two

A mission to Mars is important and worth funding.

Round three

People should be flown to space instead of robots.

Debate structure as follows:

  1. Group affirmative presents case first (2 minutes)
  2. Group negative presents case next (2 minutes)
  3. Allow both groups a break to prepare rebuttals and a summary (4 minutes)
  4. Group affirmative presents rebuttal (2 minutes)
  5. Group negative presents rebuttal (2 minutes)
  6. Group affirmative presents final rebuttal (2 minutes)
  7. Group negative presents final rebuttal (2 minutes)
  8. Group affirmative presents summary (2 minutes)
  9. Group negative presents summary (2 minutes)

The participants who are not debating during the round and the activity facilitator can serve as judges. Allow the judges 5 minutes after each round to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the argument.

If proposed above organization does not suit your number of students, alter number of rounds performed or group sizes as needed.

Appendix – Resources for the facilitator

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