This past week, the 11th grade took a field trip to the Edward M. Kennedy Center to learn how the Senate works and even participate in some lively debate. When arriving at the Kennedy Center, students were given interactive tablets to use throughout the tour. Students were able to take their “senatorial selfie” along with choosing a state and political party to represent. After splitting into different tour groups, students learned about the Legislative branch of government and its history. We were all ushered into the mock senate hall that was built to scale including desks to represent all 50 states. Within the Hall, students watched an educational video about the Senate and its actions within the League of Nations. Along with this video, students also had the opportunity to watch people recreate old speeches once given by senators in the past. This gave the presentation a 3-dimensional aspect allowing for students to feel immersed in the Senate itself. After this presentation, the group was brought to another interactive display where we had to create a “senatorial sundae”. Students were able to vote two topping to be put on the sundae. Once the policy was finalized, we were told we needed to combine our policy with another one. This taught students the practice of negotiation and merging of policies which happens often in the real Senate. After creating our sundae, students also had an opportunity to learn about Edward M. Kennedy himself. Within his mock office, students learned that Kennedy was a senator for almost half a century. We had the opportunity to learn about the policies he was a part of an what is a day to day routine was. Once students were able to see all the exhibits in the museum, we were all brought back to the Senate Hall to participate in a live debate. The Honest Ads Act is a real policy up for debate in the Senate right now. This policy is tackling the issue of unmarked political ads that target a specific group of people. Political ads on TV are required by law to have a statement attached to verify that it is associated with a politician or political party. However, ads on social media such as Facebook and Instagram do not require these messages, resulting in false information being spread. After learned a little background about this policy, Beaver students had the opportunity to debate it as their represented State. After hearing many different points on the topic, the policy was put up for a vote and the 11th grade ultimately decided to pass the Honest Ads Act.
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