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NIESpecial Report

Science of Golf

This new 10-part series continues to explore the physics and math behind the game of golf. Provided by NBC Learn, in partnership with the United States Golf Association and Chevron, students will learn about calculating golfers’ handicaps and golf scoring, the evolution of the golf club and ball, as well as how factors like friction, volume and energy all affect how a golf ball travels.

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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.

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 23, 2015

1. Baby Swap

A French court has ordered a private clinic in Cannes, France, to pay $450,000 each to two women accidentally switched at birth 20 years ago. A nurse’s assistant at Clinica Jordan had accidentally handed one of two babies to the wrong mother. Proof of the mix-up didn’t emerge until recently, when the women were given DNA tests. The two mothers — and the daughters — have been living 19 miles apart in the 20 years since the women were born. Odd stories or events are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find an example and read it. Use the story to brainstorm an idea for a creative short story or movie. Write an outline of the plot, detailing how your odd story fits in.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Long ‘Megadrought’ Likely

As bad as recent droughts have been in the United States, scientists say far worse “megadroughts” are ahead, and they will last for decades. A study in the journal Science Advances concludes that “unprecedented drought conditions” are likely in the Southwest and Central Plains. The study attributes this to global warming and climate change. There will be less rain during the megadroughts, but the biggest problem will be the heat, the scientists say. The heat will increase evaporation and dry out the soil as the air grows drier and hotter. The effects of climate change are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about climate change and its effects. Write a summary of the key points in the story.

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; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Giraffes Endangered

The world’s giraffe population is declining, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has declared two of the animal’s subspecies “endangered.” The 40 percent decline has been attributed to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation due to increased agriculture by humans. In addition, the of hides of giraffes are being used in the African nations of Kenya and Uganda to make hats, shoes and belts, wildlfe experts note, and in Tanzania and other countries, the animals are poached and hunted because some believe that eating some parts can treat HIV-AIDS. Protecting endangered species is an issue that is important to people all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find a species you think should be protected. Do some research about the animal and design a poster highlighting reasons you think the animal should be protected, and the top things that are threatening the species.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. Abolish Own Job?

Most Republicans in the United States would agree that the size of government should be reduced. At least one is really serious about it. Wisconsin’s new state treasurer — who ran on the promise he’d eliminate the job — has already fired the office’s only two employees (no longer needed, he said), and is urging a constitutional amendment abolishing his office. Most of the office’s duties had been transferred earlier to other agencies, and State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk says “this office doesn’t really have any duties left.” Adamczyk has plenty of support from both Republicans and Democrats, but others question his motives. State government issues often are in the news. In the newspaper, find a story about a state government issue that is being debated by legislators or state leaders. Read the story closely and write an editorial offering your view on the issue and what steps (if any) should be taken next.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. U.S. Wooing Ex-Enemy

The United States and the Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam are former enemies, but they are making an effort to reconnect. The reason? To offset the growing power of Vietnam’s huge neighbor, China. The U.S. and China are increasingly at loggerheads over the South China Sea, one of the world’s most vital trading routes. Vietnam — which borders China and is dependent on China economically — has a long coastline on the sea. In addition, Vietnam and neighboring nations have challenged Chinese claims of sovereignty over the area. China is one of the world’s fastest growing economic powers. In the newspaper or online find a story about China’s economy or theproducts it sells to the rest of the world. Write a summary of the story and detail how the U.S. and other nations could be affected.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.