Are We Ready for Blastoff? Middle School Students Debate Mars Colonization

NASA Drawing of Mars Colonization

Courtesy of NASA Images

The 2019-20 middle school debate resolution is: The USFG should substantially increase NASA’s Mars colonization budget.

Space colonization is bound to spark the imagination – but should the federal government fund it? During the process of learning policy debate basics, middle school students use academic evidence to weigh whether policies are worth pursuing based on the harms of inaction, the benefits of pursuing action, and more.

Each of our middle school teams are fired up to compete at next week’s Conference Championships. They’ve been preparing all season to bring their best to these debates about the benefits and drawbacks of funding Mars colonization. 

Where do you stand? See if these middle school debaters will change your mind! 


SJA Debate

Jordan advanced from the rookie division last year to novice division this year. He says: “Debate is a way for you to extend your knowledge about the whole wide world. It’s a way to find out what’s happening out there while you’re not really focused on it, just living your life.”

Jordan: It’s A New Opportunity

Jordan, novice debater at Sojourner Truth Academy, tells us: “I like the idea of traveling outside of our reach and going to Mars. It’ll make even more opportunities for the human race. And if the world becomes unlivable and we don’t have a plan B, we’re going to regret it.”

Ryn: Interstellar Research Helps Earth  

Ryn, rookie debater at Olson Middle School, argues: “Colonizing Mars would be good for research. Think about how much we can learn on a different planet. We could bring some of that information back to the Earth and get use from it. That could change lives.” 

Kadija: It Gives Us Hope

Kadija, a 6th grade student at Seward Montessori, says: “If something happens to the Earth, we’d have a different place to go in the universe. If Earth is gone, we don’t have to lose hope. We can start planning how to live on Mars now. We can test going to Mars by putting robot on the surface and starting with storage there. If Earth is gone and there’s nowhere to go, we’ll just die. But if we can go to Mars soon, we could save everyone.”

Oswaldo: Consider Climate Change 

Oswaldo, a first-year debater at Andersen United Community School, warns: “The forecast isn’t good. We should do this plan. I think climate change is the most powerful factor for planning our life in the future.” 


Tasia: We Don’t Know the Scope

Tasia Debate

Tasia, who prefers to advocate against Mars colonization, debates for Olson Middle School. She told us: “I argue a lot, but I don’t usually argue something complicated like this. I hope I get better words and better skills so I can be more persuasive.” She won a speaker award at her first tournament!

Tasia of Olson Middle School has doubts about Mars colonization: “It would take more than 10 years to make it human friendly. There’s not enough oxygen. We have to boil water for minerals. We don’t know how much work it is to try to do that! We already have a planet. We should put more effort into making the Earth’s environment better. We might even end up destroying another planet, just like how we mistreat Earth.” 

Kiernan: Let’s Save Our Perfect Planet First

Kiernan, debating for the first time at Ramsey Middle School, tells us that the negative side of this topic has compelling evidence: “It says that The Earth is a Goldilocks planet. It’s basically perfectly suited to us. The atmosphere is just right, and we have everything we need to survive. Should we consider moving to a place where we would have to live in tiny capsules? It would take 6-8 months to even get there.” 

LJA Debaters: Mars & Humans Just Don’t Mix  

Lily, Ruby, and Gillian of Laura Jeffrey Academy were so excited by the topic that they pursued research in their free time. “There were first come, first serve permission slips to go to a talk at Macalester College about Mars colonization. I was first in line,” Lily tells us. “I went there and I took so many notes!” From this experience, they’ve concluded the neg side is stronger: 

“Mars colonization is impossible because of how reactive the surface is and how much radiation there would be. There are a lot of volatile atoms,” says Lily. Teammate Ruby agrees: “If we put water on the surface to terraform Mars, it will cause explosions. You don’t want to be there when it happens.”

“I think this topic has some very interesting evidence. But we can’t do it, for real. Our bodies just are not made for Mars. Plus, there’s so much new technology we would need. We don’t have the money or time. We have everything we need here on Earth. We just have to work on optimizing a lot.” – Gillian 

Seeking more interesting insight from our debaters? Our volunteer debate judges are out of this world! Sign up to judge at upcoming Conference Championship tournaments across Minneapolis and St. Paul this spring.