Middle School Students

Online Philosophy Series

General Information

PLATO is offering an online philosophy series for middle school students (ages 12-14) in the 2023-24 school year.

Series Topics: 
Fall: Animal and Environmental Ethics
Winter: Truth, Opinion, and Misinformation
Spring: Ethics of Important Relationships: Friends, Parents, and Teachers

Each class will meet weekly for six weeks on Zoom. More information about the schedule will be available in August.

Class Descriptions

Fall 2023: Animal and Environmental Ethics

Tuesdays – TBD
4:30-5:45 pm Pacific Time

Questions about human relations with other animals and the natural world are numerous and pressing. Widespread environmental degradation, global climate change, and the use of other-than-human animals for human consumption, experimentation, companionship, and sport all raise important questions about human relations with other animals and the broader natural world. In this class, students will explore the ethical questions and complications raised by our entanglements with and impact on other animals and the Earth. 

Winter 2024: Truth, Opinion, and Misinformation

Tuesdays – TBD
4:30-5:45 pm Pacific Time

How true is the news? How should we use and represent ourselves on social media? What obligations should media outlets have to their audiences? Do beliefs and opinions overlap? At a time when misinformation is easily spread, it is crucial to discern which sources are reliable as well as define and explore the nuances of beliefs, opinions, facts, and truth. In this class, students will explore these constructs with the help of thought experiments, ethical dilemmas, and other activities.


Spring 2024: Ethics of Important Relationships: Friends, Parents, and Teachers

Tuesdays – TBD
4:30-5:45 pm Pacific Time

Humans are social beings who live in relationship with others. Some of these relationships are among the most influential in our lives – connections to friends, parents, and teachers. In this session, students will explore and discuss the ethical dimensions of these important relationships, including: What do teachers owe to their students? What do parents owe to their children? What makes someone a good friend? What, if anything, do children owe to their parents and teachers? Is it ever appropriate to lie to someone you care about and value?

Class Structure

These classes will be interactive and collaborative, requiring attention and participation of all students. Students should have their cameras on during class, as visual presence both enhances a sense of community and increases accessibility for all participants.

Barring unforeseen circumstances and illness, we expect students to attend all six sessions in a series. Consistent attendance is important for building community and deepening our discussions over the weeks we meet.

Philosophical conversations involve topics about which reasonable people can disagree. All participants are expected to arrive prepared to listen carefully, thoughtfully engage with others’ ideas, and bravely share their own thoughts.

Session facilitators will ensure we maintain a respectful and intellectually safe community of inquiry. Students will experience the joys of thinking together about the ethical and other philosophical questions on our minds.

Registration and Payment

Information about registration and payment for the series will be available in August.

Ethics Case Writing


PLATO has launched a national student ethics case writing project. Any middle school student in the United States can participate.

Accepted cases will be published on PLATO’s website, with credit to the writers, and students will receive $100 for each published case. 

For more information and to submit a case, see the case writing project page.


Cases should be submitted online on the case writing project page by 5 pm Monday, August 14, 2023.

Writers of accepted cases will be notified in September 2023.