Balloon Debates

I really like doing this lesson with all year groups, and the students get really involved and engaged. I have used it as a taster lesson, as well as an introduction lesson the both PSHE and Sociology. Explaining that this activity helps to build social skills but also to think about how society works and thinking about unconscious bias relating to occupations, age etc.

The basic premise is that the world is ending or some sort of disaster has occurred and the students have to decide who they are going to save as there is limited space.

I have seen some versions of this lesson where the students are given roles to play and have to persuade the class to save them. I wasn’t comfortable with this so created 30 character cards for the students to choose from. In my scenario all the students have been saved automatically so they don’t have to worry about themselves.

Each character card contains the name, occupation and age of the character as well as 3 facts about them. I cover the facts with Charcoal Peel off Face mask so that they are revealed gradually throughout the lesson.

Regardless of the scenario used the idea is that the student first have to choose a certain number of people from the 30 based only on the name, age, occupation and gender of the person. Then at the next stage of the story they have to cut the group again but get to see the first fact about each character, this is then repeated 2 more times.


I have created 4 scenarios that could be used – Student favourite seems to be the Zombie Apocalypse but the others can be fun as well


Neutron Star

Sinking Ship

Super Eruption

Zombie Apocalypse


Neutron stars are formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses. It is like a huge destructive black hole that travels across the universe. If it came near earth it would spaghettify (actual scientific term) it before swallowing it and crushing it back to its smallest atoms.



In this scenario, the students are on a sinking ship (maybe the Titanic) and they have to decide who gets a space on the lifeboat.



Yellowstone National Park is one giant volcano held underground. It would cause a global catastrophe should it ever erupt. In this scenario, there is a bunker that people can wait out the eruption and volcanic winter. Students have to decide who gets a spot.



In this scenario there has been a zombie outbreak, and again there is a bunker where survivors can hold up safe from the zombies, but as always there are limited spots available.