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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 01, 2016

1. Rules for Drones

More and more businesses are buying small drone aircraft — so many that the Federal Aviation Administration has set up new rules for them. In a recent ruling, the FAA said it would allow a wide range of businesses to use unmanned drones that weigh less than 55 pounds, but it set restrictions. First, each pilot must be over 16 and have passed a written test. Second, drones may only be flown lower than 400 feet, during the day, and no closer than five miles from an airport. The new guidelines require that business drone operators must keep the craft in sight at all times, which rules out package deliveries that both Amazon and Google have requested. The FAA is the agency that regulates the operation of aircraft in the United States. The new rules for drones are an example of rules being set to improve public safety. In the newspaper or online, find and closely study a photo of a public place or situation. Use what you “read” from the photo to write a paragraph listing rules you think are needed to make the place or situation safe. Discuss your rules with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Historic South Pole Rescue

For just the third time ever, rescue workers have evacuated people from the South Pole during the brutal Antarctic winter. A plane rescued two sick workers at a research station and carried them to safety in a risky 10-hour flight across the continent of Antarctica. The Amundsen-Scott research station has been described by workers as harder to get to than the International Space Station during the Antarctic winter, which occurs when it is summer in the United States and the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. During the six-month polar night, the sun never rises and wind chill dips below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes flight all but impossible because fuel freezes at such low temperatures, and it’s dangerous to fly over terrain you can’t see. A Canadian Twin Otter plane was specially equipped to fly the patients out to the South American nation of Chile, whose southern tip is nearest Antarctica. Emergency crews, police and firefighters often make news by rescuing or helping people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a situation. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor, thanking the police, fire or emergency crew for what it did.

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.

3. Tattoo Matches Boy’s Scar

When 8-year-old Gabriel Marshall had brain tumor surgery, the large scar left on his bald head made him “feel like a monster,” his father says. So Dad got a tattoo to match the scar and “take away some of the stares of attention from him.” With Dad by his side, the boy said he has learned to appreciate his “battle scar” as a sign he was “tougher than [the tumor] that tried to hurt him.” The surgery was 15 months ago, and doctors say the tumor shows no signs of growing back. Meanwhile, Josh Marshall, 28, has won the Best Bald Dad contest put on by a childhood cancer charity — and has been “all over the Internet.” Josh Marshall’s tattoo is an example of someone doing something kind for someone else. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else doing something kind for another person. Use what you read to write a “Kindness” poem detailing ways this person was kind, ways someone you know is kind or ways other people can be kind in their daily lives. Read poems aloud for family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. Michelle Obama in Africa

First Lady Michelle Obama is promoting the Let Girls Learn initiative to get developing nations to break down barriers for girls trying to get an education. This summer the First Lady took her campaign to the continent of Africa, visiting schools and leaders in the nations of Liberia and Morocco with her daughters Malia and Sasha. In Liberia she met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state, and visited a leadership camp for girls. In Morocco, the First Lady was joined by actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto for a conversation with Moroccan teenagers. The Let Girls Learn program was launched last year by President Obama and the First Lady to encourage poor nations to educate the more than 62 million girls worldwide who don’t attend school. Many girls in the world don’t get to attend school and miss out on opportunities Americans often take for granted. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about some benefits American kids get from going to school. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie or video, showing some benefits kids get from school. Write an outline for the first scene of your movie, including what images you would show. Remember you can include fun and friends — they are both school benefits!

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.

5. Bird Stays Aloft for Weeks

The frigate bird, a seagoing flier with a six-foot wingspan, can stay up in the air for weeks at a time, a new study has found. Because its feathers are not waterproof, it can’t rest on the waves, so it has developed a flying ability that almost defied researchers’ beliefs. These birds have the ability to feed while flying and can even fly at high altitudes in freezing conditions, which is “especially surprising for a tropical bird.” Flying for so long should take a high amount of energy, it’s noted in the journal Science, but frigate birds fly into clouds that allow them to hitch a ride on the updraft of winds, and save energy. Many species of wildlife can do amazing things. In the newspaper or online, find photos and stories about wildlife with special abilities. Read the stories and study the photos. Then use what you read to create a series of comic strips, showing an amazing wildlife species in action. Give your strip an interesting name and share with your family.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.