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for Grades 5-8

Apr 20, 2015
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 20, 2015

1. A Year in Space

U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have begun a year together in space aboard the International Space Station. The year-long mission will not be the longest ever —Russian Valery Polyakov spent nearly 438 consecutive days aboard the defunct Mir space station in the 1990s — but it will break the record for an American astronaut by about five months. Kelly will also be part of an unusual experiment by America’s NASA space agency. While he orbits 200 miles above the Earth, his condition will be tested and compared to the condition of his twin brother, Mark, who will be given the same tests back on Earth. The tests will seek to provide new information on how long-term space flight affects the human body. The astronauts on the International Space Station perform a variety of scientific experiments. With the newspaper or the website, read about another experiment being conducted on the space station. Use what you read to write a summary of what scientific knowledge the astronauts hope to obtain through the experiment.

Common Core State Standards: 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. A World Women’s Summit

Twenty countries will be represented at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit that will be held April 22-24 at Lincoln Center in New York City. Participants will include “activists, artists, CEOs, peacemakers and firebrand dissidents” who “have shattered glass ceilings in every sector,” according to publisher Tina Brown, the host. Among the participants will be Hillary Rodham Clinton; actresses Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand and Helen Mirren; and comedian/TV host Jon Stewart. Sponsors say the summit will feature “vivid journalistic narratives, stirring videos and provocative discussions.” From equal pay to education opportunities to threats of violence, issues affecting women are in the news around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about an issue affecting women in another country. Use what you read to write a short editorial explaining the issue, what should be done to address it and how long that would take.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Too Much Salt

Manufacturers of packaged and processed foods know they are using high amounts of salt, but ignore the fact that high consumption of salt is unhealthy, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) contend. Not only does too much salt lead to higher blood pressure and hypertension, the CDC notes in a new report, but it could also be responsible for stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney stones. The federal agency says food producers have been routinely overstepping federal guidelines and also not revealing to consumers high concentrations of salt in some foods. It took special note of packaged meats, pasta meals and pizza for their salt content. Health and food issues often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a health or food issue. Use what you read to design a poster highlighting key points people should know about the issue. Give your poster an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Charged in a Minute

A cheap, long-lasting and flexible battery has been invented for smart phones, and it can be charged in as little as one minute. Detailing the invention in the journal Nature, scientists say the new aluminum-ion battery has the potential to replace the lithium-ion battery now used in laptops and mobile phones. The researchers say the new battery also is safer than the existing lithium-ion battery, which has been known to burst into flames occasionally. They claim it is more durable and flexible, and able to continue after more than 7,500 cycles without loss of capacity. New inventions in engineering and technology are leading to new and improved products. In the newspaper or online, find an ad or story involving a new technology product. Do additional research and write a paragraph or short essay detailing how the product is an improvement over past products and how it was developed. Make a prediction of an innovation that could improve the product in the future.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Lincoln Photos to Yale

What is perhaps the largest private collection of 19th century American photographs devoted to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War has been purchased by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. The collection includes more than 73,000 items, including 57,000 photographic prints, as well as thousands of books, pamphlets, maps and theater broadsides. The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation is run by one family that collected and preserved the material for five generations. The collection had been stored at the art museum and library of the State University of New York at Purchase before being moved to the foundation’s new offices in Pleasantville, New York. The collection is going to Yale, a foundation official said, because “it needs to be housed … under better conditions.” Photos can be a great resource for learning about people or events. And they often reveal details that text alone cannot. In the newspaper, find three news, sports or feature photos that interest you. Study each closely. Then write a paragraph for each, detailing what you learn from the photo that you could not learn from a story or text. Discuss photos as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

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