In this activity, students debate whether or not there is any benefit to buying organic foods. The instructor gives a lecture describing what organic foods are and how they are defined by the Canadian government. Students are prompted with questions during the lecture to get them to think about differences between organic food and GMOs.
At the end of the lecture, the instructor introduces the debate topic (outlined in ‘Debate Information’ pdf in the activity package). Students get into (or are assigned) groups: one group will argue for buying organic food, and the other will argue against buying organic food. Students are given time in class to think up arguments for their groups position. At home, students collect peer-reviewed evidence for their groups arguments. In the following class, groups put together their arguments and rebuttals, then they debate. Students from each team take turns presenting their arguments and rebuttals. At the end of the class, the instructor goes over the claims from both sides and briefly walks students through misconceptions about organic food. At home, students are then expected to a lay write an article about organic food which they will submit for instructor evaluation.
To encourage students to use critical thinking when reading about science in the media, how it might be misrepresented, and to search for evidence-based claims from reliable sources. To get students to ask the question ‘why’ more often; to question what they read and write, not only in terms of science represented in the media, but also in peer-reviewed articles.
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