On this day in 1783, the first hot air balloon was sent aloft in Annonay, France. The balloon was engineered by two brothers, Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier. This first flight, however, was not a manned flight. Because of the unknown effects of high altitude on humans, the brothers decided to experiment with animals. The first passengers in the basket suspended below the balloon, therefore, were a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. The 8-minute flight traveled about two miles and was witnessed by a crowd of 130,000, which included King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (1).
Today’s Challenge: More Than Just Hot Air
Today is the perfect day to hold a balloon debate, a debate where at the end of each round, the audience votes on one or more speakers to eliminate. In this debate, the audience is asked to imagine that the speakers are traveling in a hot air balloon. The balloon is sinking, so in order to save everyone, one or more of the speakers must be “thrown out.”
Who would you argue is the most important or influential person in history? You may hold a balloon debate on any topic, but traditionally a balloon debate revolves around each speaker arguing the case of a famous person from history. Each speaker, then, attempts to persuade the audience why his or her individual is the most important and, therefore, the least likely candidate for elimination. Precede the debate by holding a draft, where each participant selects an individual to research and to argue for. Their task then is to write a speech that answers the following question: Why is this person the most important and influential person in history? (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)
1- Sharp, Tim. The First Hot-Air Balloon. Space.com 16 Jul. 2012. http://m.space.com/16595-montgolfiers-first-balloon-flight.html.