Two Sides of an Issue

Middle School and High School Teacher

A controversial issue, such as global warming, will be researched using the vast resources of the Internet.  The students will research both sides, either supporting or disputing the facts, opinions, and other information.

Grade Level: 10 - 12th

Subject: Environmental, Science

Length of Time: About 2 - 3 Class Periods

Featured Programs:
Sponsored School(s)

Objectives & Outcomes

The learners will be able to research and disseminate information regarding a controversial issue in the scientific community, identifying and supporting both sides.

Materials Needed

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Prepare ahead of time:  Two or more headlines related to global warming showing both sides of the issue


Opening to Lesson

  • Display the following question: What team in sports or TV show is the best?
  • Allow the students to respond
  • Next, ask them to give you facts or reasons their choice is considered the best
  • Remind students that sometimes there is not always an agreement on issues even when there might be evidence

Body of Lesson


  • Clearly display the headlines related to global warming
  • Explain how the issue is often in the news and debated between scientists and non-scientists alike
  • Ask students why they believe that happens
  • Tell students the Internet is a popular source for information related to many issues, including global warming

Guided Practice

  • Pair the students, but each student having their own access to a computer
  • Assign one of the students to be a researcher for everything they can find out about the facts related to global warming and that it is occurring
  • Assign the student’s partner to do the opposite, to research everything that refutes global warming and the facts to support the claim
  • On day two, the students will meet and sort out their findings, analyzing what may or may not be true
  • If there are discrepancies both students will use one computer and do further research to resolve each discrepancy, if possible
  • Once all the information is agreed upon the pairs of students in the classroom will present their findings to the rest of the class
  • The students should be encouraged to debate with those in disagreement with the various findings

Independent Practice

  • The teacher will be responsible for writing a short one or two page report about the global warming issue based on their research.
  • The teacher will collect the report and use it as an assessment.


Ask students again to answer the question:  Why do scientists and non-scientists continue to debate the issue?  Remind students that in science there is often no correct or exact answers to the many issues in the world and society.

Sponsored Content

Assessment & Evaluation

Classroom presentations and report summarizing the Internet research related to the issue.

Modification & Differentiation

Students work alone, one day for each type of research.  Use a different controversial issue.  Create a rubric to score the students’ presentation to classmates.  Spend more time on the lesson.  Use outdated encyclopedias to discover old information to show changes in research and information, regardless of the issue.

Related Lesson Plans

Ocean Pollution

Students will research ocean pollution and compare/contrast current data, hypotheses and other information and check for accuracy.

Saving the World: A Gift at a Time

Students will find, list, and explain how to limit consumption of new goods by designing an alternative registry for an event (wedding, birthday, anniversary)

Eco-Friendly Homes

The student will work in groups of three or four to design an eco-friendly home.

The Science of Verbs

The student will connect science to everyday, unusual, or rare actions carried out by people.