, week of
Nov. 30, 2015
1. NASA Robot
America’s NASA space agency is giving a six-foot-tall, 290-pound, human-shaped robot to a Massachusetts university to test and develop for future space missions. The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop computer codes and programming for the robot as part of NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge. The goal is to create robots that could take the place of humans on long, “extreme space” missions. Computers and technology are important to the success of all space missions. As a class, closely read a story about a space mission from the newspaper or the Internet. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing two ways technology is important to the mission.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.
2. Smaller Plates, Less Food
If people want to eat less and lose weight, they should use smaller plates and cups, or put smaller amounts of food on the plates they have. This could reduce the calories people take in by as much as 29 percent, a new study suggests. Combining data from more than 60 studies, researchers in Cambridge, England, also suggest adults should pay more attention to the way children eat. The researchers from the Cochrane Library found that children serve themselves less food than their parents do. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to people of all ages. Getting exercise, eating fewer packaged snacks and eating more fruits and vegetables all can help achieve healthy weight. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about ways to maintain a healthy weight. Then clip or print words, stories or images from the newspaper to create a poster encouraging people to get exercise, eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Give your poster an eye-catching title.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. Escaped Cobra Recovered
It took three animal control officers to capture a missing 8-foot, 10-inch king cobra in Orlando, Florida, recently — and it wasn’t easy. The poisonous snake had escaped from the home of its owner and traveled more than a half mile through the neighborhood before hiding under a clothes dryer in a woman’s garage. After the officers cornered it, the snake escaped again before one officer grabbed its head with tongs while another stood on its tail. Then the box they tried to put it in proved too small and they had to get a cat cage. Eventually they got the cobra back to its owner, and no one was hurt. Animal officers have to deal with many unusual situations. Alone or as a class, find and closely read a story about an unusual animal situation. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing animal officers dealing with the situation.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Diamonds May Be Common
Diamonds are among the world’s most valuable jewels, but they may not be nearly as rare as believed in the past. Getting to them is another story, though. Scientists report in the magazine Nature Communications that diamonds are probably forming all the time deep in the Earth, but they are incredibly hard to get at and practically microscopic. Up to now, it was generally thought that diamonds required complex chemical reactions to form in the Earth, but according to the new study, simple changes in acid levels can cause them to take shape, too. Researchers believe this is happening about 100 miles below the Earth’s surface, more than 10 times deeper than any drilling has ever gone. So diamonds are likely to remain both rare and valuable in the near future. Diamonds are special gifts given for special occasions. In the newspaper or online, find an ad for a special gift you would like to give to someone who is special to you. Read and study the ad and how it describes the item. Then write a note to the person you want to give the gift to, explaining why you chose it.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. Meet ‘McPick2’
McDonald’s is replacing its discount ”Dollar Menu & More” with “McPick2.” In the new approach, customers pay $2 and can pick any two of these items: a McDouble sandwich, a McChicken, small fries or mozzarella sticks. The offer will be available in American McDonald’s restaurants for five weeks, starting January 4. After that the chain may revise the McPick offer. A McDonald’s spokesperson called the offer a “new definition of value,” while business experts said it was an effort to revive slumping sales. Businesses often try new things or make new offers to get people to buy from them. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story or ad involving a company that sells things to the public. Use what you read to write an editorial or short essay, detailing things this company could try to get more people to buy from them. Support your opinions with facts from your reading.
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.