, week of
June 17, 2013
1. Ancient Boats Restored
Eight boats carved of oak and other woods were deliberately sunk about 3,000 years ago in the European nation of Great Britain, and archaeologists don’t know why. Each of the impressive vessels was carved from a single tree trunk and the longest is nearly 30 feet long. They were decorated elaborately and at least one can still float. Found in 2011 near Peterborough, England, the boats are being restored, and scientists hope to solve the mystery of why they were sunk in an ancient creek that eventually became site of a quarry where rocks were dug for building things. The boats, probably used to transport people and cargo, are being tested with carbon-dating equipment to determine their exact age and will eventually be spruced up and put on display. As a class, talk about things scientists can learn from ancient transportation vehicles. Then find a modern vehicle in the ads and stories of the newspaper. Write a paragraph explaining what future scientists could learn about people today by studying this vehicle.
Common Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
2. Facelift for a Mummy
A 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy came out of its coffin for a few days before going (back) to the hospital. The mummy has been on display at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston since 1823, but it was removed for what a historical expert said was “similar to a facelift (or) a facial in a spa.” Cotton swabs were used to wipe away salt deposits from the face (the salt had been slowly seeping out of the tissue), and a small vacuum cleaner removed fine dust from skin darkened by mummification resins. The mummy probably was a stonecutter “employed to open up the ground and create the tombs … in the Valley of Kings” on the Nile River in Egypt, the history expert said. After minor repair work on its coffin, the mummy and coffin were returned to the display area at the hospital. Preserving historic items and places takes great care. As a class, find an item or place in the newspaper that is important to local history. Write out five things that need to be done regularly to preserve this item or place.
Common Core/National Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
3. Floating Windmill
The first floating windmill in the United States has started operations and is generating electricity. Anchored in the Gulf of Maine, it captures onshore breezes to drive wind machines that generate electric power. The prototype windmill can generate only 20 kilowatts of electricity, but the University of Maine researchers who developed it hope it will lead to a larger 6-megawatt version later. As a class, talk about how wind power is a renewable energy source, and how. Use what you learn from the discussion to create a comic strip for the newspaper that stars a windmill as its main character. Have your character explain a benefit of wind power. Give your strip a fun title that will make people want to read it.
Common Core/National Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. Made from a Meteorite
Iron beads made in Egypt more than 5,300 years ago turn out to have an older, more distant origin. They were made from a meteorite. The nine tube-like beads, excavated near the city of Cairo in the northern Africa country, have a large amount of nickel, as iron meteorites do. On top of that, a new study has found a crystal structure in the beads found only in iron meteorites. “It’s a gift from the gods,” said the archaeologist who headed the recent study. As a class, discuss how ancient peoples made tools and jewelry from materials they found in nature. Talk about how they might have chosen the meteorite material because they thought it was special. Then find a natural material in the newspaper or online that you would like to use to make special jewelry. Write a sentence explaining why you chose the material and draw a picture of your jewelry.
Common Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Old Plants Revived!
Because of warming temperatures, an arctic glacier on Canada’s Ellesmere Island has been melting, exposing plants that had been trapped under ice near the Earth’s North Pole for more than 400 years. And some of the plants are still alive! Small green growths were observed on the black plants, so scientists ground up samples and sprinkled them over soil in petri dishes. Within months, they sprouted. Plants and natural habitats often make news. Find a story about one of them in the newspaper or online (don’t forget food news — vegetables are plants!) Write the name of the plant or habitat down the side of a sheet of paper. Then write a poem about it, using each letter of its name to start each line. Your poems don’t need to rhyme, but give your poem a title that sums up your main point.
Common Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience; demonstrating understanding of figurative language, word relationships and word meaning.