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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!

Click here to view the new material

Become a Wildlife Watch Treasure Hunter

National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Watch is a national, nature-watching program created for people of all ages. Through the program, you’ll gain first hand experience with plants and animals in their natural environment and share details that help National Wildlife Federation track the health and behavior of wildlife and plant species nationwide. In return, the Wildlife Watch website keeps you up-to-date on wildlife news and facts, and new ideas for attracting wildlife to your backyard and community.

Click here to join the hunt today!

For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 01, 2014

1. Record Comic Book Price

How much would you pay for a comic book? How about $3.2 million? That’s the record-breaking price an unnamed buyer paid on ebay for a copy of 1938’s Action Comics No. 1, which features the first adventures of Superman. The price far outdistanced the previous record for a comic book — $2.2 million for a copy of the same comic in 2011. That copy once belonged to movie actor Nicolas Cage, who bought it in 1997 for $150,000. The record-setting comic book, which sold for 10 cents in April 1938, is one of 34 unrestored copies known to exist from an initial print run of about 200,000. Wealthy people and museums often pay great amounts for rare or unusual items. With family or friends, talk about a rare item you might like to have, if cost did not matter. Explain your choice by drawing — of course — a series of comic strips for the newspaper.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Facebook Down? Don’t Call 911

Facebook crashed for about a half-hour in the Los Angeles area of California one night recently, and many residents responded by dialing 911, the emergency help number set up to report crimes, fires, medical problems and other emergencies. Law enforcement agencies were annoyed. A Sheriff’s Office sergeant Twittered, “#Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, don’t call us about it being down …” The social media network itself told users, “Sorry, something went wrong,” later adding “Our engineers detected the issue quickly and are working to resolve it ASAP.” Social media sites like Facebook have changed the way people communicate. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about social media use by students and families. Then write a short opinion commentary comparing the benefits and liabilities of using social media extensively as a source of information.

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

3. Black Pete

In the European country of the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam has an annual Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) parade that attracts thousands of people. In the parade, Santa has a dark-skinned, Moorish servant, who distributes candy and treats. He is known to parade-goers as Black Pete, but in the next four years he’ll become progressively less black. Costume and makeup changes are planned to make Black Pete look less like an exaggerated caricature of an African, according to Amsterdam’s mayor. It’s an effort to respond to critics who have called the character an offensive holdover from colonialism and slavery. Those defending the tradition say it predates colonialism and slavery (in the Middle Ages, the character was the devil, not a servant). Attitudes about race and ethnic traditions are changing all over the world. With family or friends, discuss attitudes in the United States or elsewhere that once were accepted but now are not. Then use the Internet and newspaper to find an article about attitudes changing somewhere in the world. Read the article closely and write a paragraph summarizing the change.

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.

4. Fireflies Are Threatened

Researchers in South Carolina have been measuring the firefly population to see whether the insects are threatened by urbanization. Scientists have warned that expanding cities are altering flow patterns and increasing light pollution, which hampers the insects’ use of light in their mating rituals. Clemson University’s Vanishing Firefly Project was inspired by a 2010 study that warned that “the decline of fireflies is a cause for concern and reflects the global trend of increasing biodiversity loss.” Construction and other forms of development often have an effect on habitats, wildlife and natural environments. In newspaper or online, find a story about development of some kind that could affect wildlife or the environment. Write a summary of the effect, and what steps could be taken to reduce the impact.

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.

5. At 13, a Sports Cover Girl

She’s a girl and she’s only 13, but Mo’ne Davis has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. Mo’ne is a star pitcher for the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and drew national attention for her accomplishments in the Little League World Series. With a 70-mph fastball, she became the first girl to throw a shutout in the World Series — and only the 18th girl to have played in the 68-year-old competition. What’s more, in the face of worldwide attention, countless interviews and autograph seekers, she handled herself with poise, cool and grace. Like Mo’ne Davis, girls and women are doing things today that they never did before. In the newspaper, find a girl or woman who has achieved success. Read the story and write a letter to the editor describing how this person’s success could inspire others in the future.

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.