Teams from five local schools met face-to-face on the CU Boulder campus on Saturday, February 3, to discuss and debate the ethical dilemmas of a variety of current issues.

Sometimes today's high schoolers -- Generation Z, or whatever you want to call them -- get a bad rap. With a reputation for being overly active on social media and the internet, post-Millennials have been the subject of a lot of concern, since much of their social interactions occur via technology, eliminating the development of personal social skills and the ability to have face-to-face discussions. But the Colorado High School Ethics Bowl is unraveling all those arguments, giving teens a chance to look at controversial topics in great detail, develop their stance, and then articulate their case in a friendly debate-like setting. According to the University of Colorado's Center for Values and Social Policy, who sponsors the competition,
"Ethics Bowl is a collaborative and competitive team-based activity, similar in some ways to debate, but with a focus on developing the ability to think critically and speak effectively about ethical issues."
In just its second year, Colorado's Ethics Bowl tournament took place on the CU campus on Saturday, February 3, with eight teams competing from five schools: Vanguard Classical School (Aurora), Colorado Early Colleges (Parker), Colorado Early Colleges (Fort Collins), Peak to Peak Charter School (Lafayette), and Boulder High School (Boulder). One of Peak to Peak's three teams walked away with the victory, with Boulder High School taking second place. Peak to Peak Charter School will now compete against the winner of another regional competition in the country. The winner of that round will compete at the national level. [caption id="attachment_33098" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]ethics Courtesy of Colorado High School Ethics Bowl[/caption]

How Ethics Bowl works:

  • Teams are given 15 cases to study several months in advance. Cases cover a wide range of topics, including morals surrounding driverless cars, breed-specific legislation, contributing to gentrification, and school choice.
  • During a round of competition, the moderator presents one of the 15 cases, and the first team will have two minutes to review the issue (without their notes) and confer, then give a five-minute presentation on their stance.
  • The second team then has two minutes to confer and give a three-minute response, challenging the first team's ability to accurately make a strong enough case. The first team is allowed to confer and respond, before a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the three judges, during which the students are often put on the spot and required to think on their feet.
  • In the second half of the round, the teams reverse roles with a new topic.
  • After both teams have been in the hot seat, the judges (professors and doctoral students from the CU Department of Philosophy) tally their votes and announce the winner of the round.
If anything could restore adults' hope in this up-and-coming generation, the Colorado Ethics Bowl would do it. Dressed in professional attire, the teens shook hands, congratulated each other on well-thought-out arguments, and made small-talk before and after each round. The students' ability to think critically was impressive, and their positions on each topic were well-articulated. The event organizers hope that the Ethics Bowl competition continues to gain traction here in Colorado, and that more schools join the tournament in future years. Congratulations to Peak to Peak Charter School! And congrats to all five schools for assembling well-prepared, competitive teams who represented their high schools and communities!

Do you like some friendly competition? Try your hand at these Olympic Events for the Average Person!