Constitution Connection is a free website where students can join in bi-weekly debates on current hot topics. They compete to win a $25 gift card for presenting the most constitutional argument for either the pro or con side.
Examples of topics that have been debated:
Should the government regulate the internet?
Does the 1st amendment protect students’ online activity?
Do you think the United States should loosen restrictions on immigration?
Is it the government’s job to pay for your college education?
When each topic is presented, the site provides a reference article or video as well as articles and/or videos offering points and counterpoints. Students need to watch or read these to be well informed before presenting their own argument. Once students decide their position, they enter a vote and present their argument. They don’t have space to write a paper, so they should choose and present what they think is their strongest argument. Students can also reply to comments posted by others.
Students must complete an entry form to participate. Those ages13 to 18 must have written permission from their parents to participate, but older students can participate without parental permission.
Other student comments are visible during the two weeks of each debate. The site shows the status of votes throughout the debate.
Past debates are available for reference. Students can access videos and articles as well as student comments that were posted.
The quality of the comments varies. Some seem very superficial while others are more thoughtful and try to present constitutionally-based arguments. I'm told by the folks at the Bill of Rights Institute that there is no word limit, so students might choose to put out more effort than minimalist, paragraph-long posts (of which there are many) to present more complete arguments.
Students who can’t be involved in actual debates for whatever reason might find this a great motivation to get informed and to practice presenting arguments, albeit at a much less challenging level than in actual debate participation. Those who are involved in actual debates might find food for thought as well as potential arguments if one of these topics aligns with their debate topic.