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NIE Special Report

Who doesn’t like to eat?

Turn the fun of food into a great science experience to start off the school year using a new science content reading Is there a gene for liking broccoli? and an accompanying activity Taste this!

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The National Wildlife Federation lesson plans are designed to introduce students to life science, ecology, wildlife biology, scientific identification and observation. All lesson plans are aligned to the National Science Education Standards and organized by grade level.

Click here for the activities

For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 15, 2014

1. School Bans Soccer Headers

In the state of Pennsylvania, Shipley School has become the nation’s first to ban middle school soccer players from heading the ball. The school located outside the city of Philadelphia took the step in an effort to reduce the chances of students sustaining head injuries. Shipley also says it will now equip high school players with sensors to measure the frequency and intensity of blows to the head. The move reflects growing concern across the nation over concussions and other head injuries in contact sports. Shipley said it decided to ban headers for middle school in light of “a growing trend of … severe head injuries” among students. All over the country, steps are being taken or considered to prevent concussions and other head injuries in sports. As a class, discuss some ways student sports safety could be improved. Use points from the discussion to write a short editorial for the newspaper giving your view on one way to ensure student safety in sports. Or write an editorial giving your view on the Shipley decision.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Scrabble Adds 5,000 Words

The official dictionary of the Scrabble word game has been updated for the first time in almost 10 years. The fifth edition contains 5,000 new words, including “selfie” and “hashtag.” The last time the Scrabble dictionary was updated, Facebook was in its infancy. The new words are not just cyber-oriented. They include words used in daily conversation, words influenced strongly by events in the headlines or news coverage and words popular in social media. Even games other than Scrabble are included, such as Sudoku. Learning and using new words helps you build a strong vocabulary that will help you in both school and jobs. Scan stories in the newspaper and make a list of five to 10 words that are unfamiliar to you. (Stories about specialty fields like business or science are a good place to start.) Look up the meaning of the words in a dictionary. Then use each word in a complete sentence.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Russia Shuts McDonald’s

McDonald’s has more than 400 restaurants across Russia, but some are being shut down by the government for alleged violations of the country’s sanitation code. The government denies that the closings are retribution for McDonald’s shutting three restaurants in the Crimea region after Russia annexed that formerly Ukrainian peninsula. McDonald’s says six of its restaurants have been closed in the country, but the chain plans to fight the court orders. Russia, which covers territory in the continents of both Europe and Asia, is one of the world’s leading powers. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about Russia or Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Write a paragraph summarizing the key points in the story. Then write a second paragraph summarizing how the Russian news could affect the United States or other countries.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Richard III’s Exotic Meals

During his two-year reign from 1483 to 1485, England’s King Richard III lived the high life. He consumed vast quantities of wine and feasted on such exotic birds as swan, crane and heron. How do we know? Through chemical analysis of his teeth and bones, after his remains were discovered in a Leicester parking lot in 2012. Researchers from the British Geological Survey and the University of Leicester analyzed two teeth, one rib and a femur bone. By studying isotopes in the bones, they could determine what he ate, how much he drank and even where he lived at times, according to their report in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Scientific testing has made great advances possible in fields ranging from archaeology to crime-fighting. In the newspaper or online, find a story about scientific testing or studies involving scientific testing. Read the story closely and write a summary detailing how modern methods achieve findings that could not be achieved before.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Regulate e-Cigarettes, U.S. Urged

Electronic cigarettes should be subject to the same laws that apply to tobacco products, and the federal government should ban marketing and selling them to young people, the American Heart Association has declared. In a new policy statement, the association urged continuous research on e-cigarette use, marketing and long-term health effects. It says, “Recent studies raise concerns … that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products … and could renormalize smoking. …” With the newspaper or Internet, research scientific and medical concerns about e-cigarettes. Then use what you learn to design a public service ad for the newspaper or TV, spotlighting points that people of all ages should consider before using e-cigarettes.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.