Big Questions Debate
Big Questions is a debate format and fund raiser supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and administered by the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA). High school and middle level students will grapple with complex worldview questions as they debate both sides of the 2020-21 topic:
Resolved: Mathematics was discovered, not invented.
Schools who hold Big Questions debates are eligible to receive thousands of dollars per event. These debates can be held at a tournament, with your team, or in your classroom. Read eligibility guidelines below. Note that each student participating must participate in three debates (rounds). We also recommend reading the buttons to the right.
- Rounds must follow the Big Questions format described in the Big Questions Format Manual.
- Minimum student participants: 10 (a partnership counts as two students; only students who actually debate/compete are counted as participants).
- Your own school’s students qualify under the grant and may be counted toward your total number of student participants.
- Minimum number of rounds (debates): 3.
- There must be a suitable number of different judges relative to the level of participation.
- Applications are no longer accepted on a first come, first served basis. If an application is not immediately accepted, you may host your event and turn in reporting information to be put on a waitlist to receive funding if your application status changes. Applicants should carefully consider estimated number of participants before applying. For budgetary reasons, they will not award amounts above the amount estimated on the application. Each school may be limited in total funds awarded for the year.
- You can apply to host multiple events. Each subsequent event should have 50% new participants.
- Due to grant demand, schools must be a member of the NSDA <-- click the link to learn more about the WHSFA-NSDA partnership. Grant funds earned may be applied toward NSDA membership dues.
- Award plaques may optionally be ordered from NSDA when applying (with costs deducted from the grant); otherwise, printable certificates are available for free. *This is a change beginning with 2020-21.
- 1 or 2 debaters on each side; rounds can be 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, or 1 vs. 2
- Time of Speeches (similar to Public Forum)
Affirmative Constructive – 5 minutes
Negative Constructive – 5 minutes
Question Segment – 3 minutes (affirmative asks first question; free-flowing afterwards)
Affirmative Rebuttal – 4 minutes
Negative Rebuttal – 4 minutes
Question Segment – 3 minutes (same format as above)
Affirmative Consolidation – 3 minutes
Negative Consolidation – 3 minutes
Affirmative Rationale – 3 minutes
Negative Rationale – 3 minutes
Prep Time – 3 minutes / side
- See the manual for more details.
- If your event has 1-2 schools compete, you will earn $250 for the first 10 students. Each additional student will earn your program $10.
- If your event has 3 or more schools compete, you will earn $400 for the first 10 students. Each additional student over the 10 minimum will earn your program $10.
- The full grant amount will be awarded following completion of reporting requirements; no upfront installments will be given.
- There is a $2,500 award cap per school or organization.
- The NSDA reserves the right to bill back schools for the shipping and cost of awards (if preordered) if the event is canceled.
- Click here for full details.