UT Dallas Sponsors Inaugural 'Comet Debate Institute'
Camp Helps High School Students Hone Skills and Practice Research Techniques
July 11, 2008
Members of the UT Dallas Debate Team recently hosted 13 high school students at its first-ever summer camp, dubbed the Comet Debate Institute.
During the week-long camp, the young debaters explored the topic for the upcoming high school season — U.S. energy policy and alternative energy — and received tips and instruction on how to succeed at competitions.
Specifically, the students used resources at the University’s McDermott Library to research oil prices and supply, wind power, greenhouse gases, climate change, blackouts and the reliability of the electrical grid.
The high schoolers then used what they had learned to engage in actual debates about topics related to the upcoming season.
According to Chris Burk, director of UT Dallas debate, all the students participating in the camp were diverse and talented, but they shared the same goal — to learn more about debate.
“The camp had students from suburban schools, home schools and small towns,” Burk said. “We had boys and girls. The only common element was a desire to become more skilled at debate. It was actually quite inspiring to see them so excited and willing to learn new techniques and tricks to become better debaters.”
Two campers came from Colleyville High School, whose top team won the high school nationals this season. Another two were home school teens from Plano. Home school students are unique because they compete in their own national league.
The camp staff was comprised of UT Dallas debate coaches, including Burk; Scott Herndon, associate director of debate; and Todd Jordan, assistant coach and a graduate student in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
Due to its success, Burk said he expects there will be another camp next summer.