Setting: Gabriella, Jamal, and Hector were cutting through the park on their way home from school. In the middle of the park was a construction site where a large hole had been dug in the ground. There were piles of dirt everywhere and a sign that read: SKATEBOARD PARK COMING SOON!
Jamal: I wish they would hurry up with the ramps. My cousin gave me his skateboard, and I’m dying to try it on some serious ramps. I hope they’re really steep so I can do tricks.
Gabriella: Not me! I just learned how to skateboard. A steep ramp would make me nervous.
Jamal: No way! The steeper the ramp, the faster you go! Fast is just more fun, it’s not more dangerous. Actually, if I try to do my tricks on a ramp that’s not steep enough, that’s when I fall and get hurt.
Hector thought about this and wondered if Jamal had any evidence to support his claim.
Hector: Last summer I went down a steep ramp and I fell and broke my arm. I was going way too fast.
Jamal: Maybe you’re just a bad skateboarder. You can’t say that steep ramps are bad just because one person got hurt.
Gabriella: The idea of a really steep ramp makes me nervous, but Jamal has a point. Has anyone actually tested to see if steeper ramps cause more accidents?
Hector: Why do you need a test? I know that if I go down a steep ramp, by the end, I feel like I’m going very fast. The faster I go, the harder I’m going to crash into something if I fall at the end.
Jamal: Hector, you’re not getting my point. You can’t interpret more speed to mean more danger. For someone like me who does tricks, slow messes me up and can cause me to get hurt.
Gabriella agreed with Hector. But she also thought it was plausible that steeper ramps just felt more dangerous but didn’t cause more accidents.
Gabriella: I could believe that going faster at the end would make you crash harder. But maybe Jamal is right. Maybe steep ramps aren’t really that dangerous. I think that people who build these parks should test different ramps to see how often kids get hurt on them. The results might tell you if the ramp was dangerous.
Hector: I guess that would make sense. If you saw a pattern in the results where more people got hurt on steeper ramps then you would know they were a bad idea.
Gabriella: Maybe there should be all different kinds of ramps so kids can choose. If you’re good and want to do tricks like Jamal, you could choose a steep ramp. If you’re like me, you can choose one that’s not steep.
Hector: But last summer I chose a steep ramp. I didn’t know I would break my arm. I didn’t get to play baseball or go swimming for my whole summer vacation. I was miserable. Companies that build ramps should have to test how dangerous they are. A little steep might be okay. But if it’s too steep, you don’t realize how fast you’ll go and how hard you’ll hit when you fall.
Jamal: Skateboarding is just like any other sport. You might get hurt, but that’s the chance you take. I’m with Gabby. Let people make their own choices.
Hector disagreed. He thought the evidence would show that steep ramps were dangerous. He decided he’d look into the evidence before he continued his argument with Jamal.