To engage with the presidential election on Tuesday, Middle School spent half of the day getting to grips with the USA’s system of government. Students spent the day learning about the country's Electoral College and the process of electing the president. Learning about states with the highest number of Electoral College votes, students discovered the meaning of a ‘safe’ or ‘swing’ state. Let us not forget that that the magic number to win a presidential election is 270 votes!
Students took part in a mock debate representing either a swing state, or even playing the role of a candidate and campaign manager. Working in teams, students were given a particular swing state and issue they needed to investigate. They were asked to find out about the state’s demographic, position on a given issue, and what sort of question they would want to ask the candidates. In the meantime, the students who had taken on the roles of the presidential candidate and campaign manager worked hard to prepare themselves for the potential questions they would face.
One student took the lead as debate moderator, selecting the best question from each state. “This question is from Virginia: if you get elected as President, what will you do to make background checks for guns more reliable?” asked the moderator. Each candidate was given up to one minute to explain their position, and after both responses were heard, students were polled to find out which candidate gave the most convincing answer.
At the end of the debate, all students received a ballot paper to give their overall vote. The moderator recorded results throughout the day. At the end of the day results were announced and students reflected on their learning for the afternoon. “I have learned that politics is a lot more complicated than I thought, with a complicated voting system,” remarked one student,“I have learned the way this country really elects the president.”