1. Boy Sees Mom First Time
A “legally blind” fifth grader in the state of Virginia has seen his mother for the first time in his 12-year life — and he observed that she’s “pretty.” The boy, whose eye muscles never fully developed, was testing digital glasses produced through a technology called eSight. Fifth grader Chris Ward also got to see words on a page for the first time (he’s been using Braille, which gives words raised shapes on paper so they can be read by touch with the fingertips). Though Ward tested the digital glasses, his family can’t afford the $15,000 price tag on them, so his mother, Marquita Hackley, has started a fund-raising drive on the Internet. As that “crowd-funding” campaign goes forward, Chris is keeping up with his classmates by relying on Braille and techniques he’s already learned. The digital glasses that helped Chris Ward to see are an example of technology being used in new ways. In the newspaper or online, find an ad or story about another product that is using technology to do new things. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing this product in action.
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; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Robot Explores Shipwreck
A new humanoid robot has passed a big milestone, exploring its first shipwreck. The robot, called OceanOne, surveyed the wreckage of a 17th century ship that sank near the southern coast of the European nation of France. It brought back a vase from the wreck without damaging it. Developed by a team at Stanford University in the United States, OceanOne is designed to keep human divers safe from danger in underwater operations such as deep-sea oil drilling or maintenance. It looks like a robot mermaid, but instead of a tail, uses a series of thrusters to move around under the sea. Its “hands” are fitted with sensors that send feedback to the operator. Robots are being developed to help people in all kinds of new ways. As a class, find and closely read a story in the newspaper or online about a new kind of robot. Use what you read to write a short poem about how robots could change our lives for the better. Your poems do not need to rhyme, but they should contain active verbs and colorful adjectives.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. 33 Lions Go to ‘Paradise’
Thirty-three circus lions — which together weigh more than 10,000 pounds — have been airlifted from Lima, Peru, in South America to the African nation of South Africa. Most of the lions were rescued by an animal rights group from circuses in Peru and will be relocated to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, South Africa. Other lions were surrendered by a circus in the South American country of Colombia. The rescue was coordinated by the group called Animal Defenders International, which negotiated their release and is raising money to pay for their flight to their new home. A team from the organization accompanied the big cats on the 15-hour flight, taking them from very harsh conditions “to paradise,” as one rescuer put it. The governments of Peru and Colombia both have banned circuses from using wild animals for entertainment, and other nations are taking similar steps. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about using wild animals in entertainment. Use what you read to write a summary of one situation and what is being done about it.
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. First Rocket Launch
The European nation of Russia has launched the first rocket ever from its new spaceport facility — one day after a first attempt had to be canceled. President Vladimir Putin was on hand for the launch, staying overnight after the first attempt failed. The new spaceport is called the Vostochny Cosmodrome, and it replaces the old spaceport, Baikonur, in the nation of Kazakhstan. Russia has been leasing the Baikonur facility for $115 million a year since Kazakhstan became an independent country in 1991. That lease runs out in the year 2050. Russia, the United States and other nations are constantly exploring space to learn more about our solar system and the universe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a space mission by the United States or another nation. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing what the mission seeks to achieve and what it has achieved so far.
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.
5. Lost in Wilderness
An American exchange student and her mother were lost in the New Zealand wilderness for five days before they were rescued by a helicopter pilot who spotted a large HELP sign they had made from fern fronds. The mother’s husband had been trying to reach them by cell phone but their phone had died. Rachel Lloyd, 22, and her visiting mother, Carolyn Lloyd, 47, had set off on what was intended to be a one-day hike in a forest near Massey University in the nation located next to Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Rachel, who has finished most of a double degree at North Carolina State University, was treated at Wellington Hospital for hypothermia and undernourishment; her mother was OK. Being lost in the wilderness is an adventure that could be made into a movie or TV show. With a partner, find and closely read a story in the newspaper or online about another adventure had by someone. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a movie based on this adventure. Write an outline for the plot of your movie, including what images you would use. Then write the opening scene in the form of movie dialog.
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.