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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 13, 2017

1. LaGuardia Airport Upgrade

Ex-Vice President Joe Biden once compared New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to something you might find “in a third world country.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo referred to it as “a disgrace.” And New Yorkers who have flown in or out of the 77-year-old airport have been complaining about conditions at the facility for years. Now something is being done about it. A $3.6 billion makeover project is under way to replace the airport’s aging central terminal with a modern facility better equipped to handle the 17.5 million passengers who use LaGuardia each year. The upgrade will provide airy waiting areas and walkways, plenty of natural light, upscale restaurants and a variety of new shops. The first new gates are slated to open in the spring of 2018, and the entire project is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2022. Air travel is one form of transportation that is important to people and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and read about two other types of transportation that people and businesses use. Make a chart comparing air travel to these other types of transportation. For each of the three types, list the advantages and disadvantages in your chart.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Too Much Water

Dehydration is a risk to athletes, especially in the spring and summer, so it’s important that you drink enough water. But you can actually drink too much water, scientists warn. A condition known as hypo-natremia has been linked to athletes drinking too much water in an effort to prevent muscle cramps (which actually are caused by getting overly tired). Hypo-natremia dilutes the salt and sodium in the blood, causes the cells to swell and if left untreated can lead to headaches, seizures, coma and even death. To complicate matters even more, early symptoms — dizziness, bloating and nausea — are the same as those for dehydration. To stay healthy while exercising, doctors say you should not drink too much or force yourself to drink fluids. Drinking the right amount of water when exercising is one way to stay healthy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other ways to stay healthy when exercising. Use what you read to design a poster highlighting several healthy exercise tips. Give your poster an eye-catching headline or title.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

3. Atomic Clock More Precise

Using a new technique, atomic clocks will be made even more precise than they have been in the past. With the upgrade, the interval between “ticks” of the atoms that power the clocks will vary by less than two parts in 1 quintillion (that’s 1, followed by 18 zeroes). That will make the clock about 10 times more stable than before. This won’t increase your chance of getting to an appointment on time, but it makes the atomic clock so precise that physicists can use it to probe some of science’s biggest unsolved mysteries. When atomic clocks were invented, they were a huge advance for scientists who need to measure time precisely. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another discovery or invention that is an advance for scientists. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing why the discovery or invention is an advance for scientists, and what its long-term effects will be.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Better-Educated Less Skeptical

You’d think better-educated people would be less trusting of health information found on the Internet, but new research indicates that young college graduates are MORE likely to trust questionable Web sources than high school graduates who are older. Apparently, many young college grads are relying less on health care providers for information than on Internet content and websites. Those most comfortable using computers are tapping the Internet for answers about health problems, even though the “information … may not be accurate or reliable,” says the lead author of the Pew Internet & American Life Health Tracking Survey. The easy availability of information on the Internet has changed the way people do research and gather information they need for schools, jobs or life. Because of this, people need to develop critical thinking skills to assess how reliable Internet information may be. As a class, discuss critical thinking questions you might ask to assess the reliability of information on the Internet. Then search online for a website offering information about a topic you like. Read the information on the website and assess it by asking critical thinking questions like those you discussed as a class. Finish by writing an Internet column assessing the reliability of the information on the website you examined.

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.

5. Boom Thwarts CO2 Goals

Carbon efficiency has improved in most of China. At the same time, however, the Asian country’s economic boom has led to a growth in activities that release more carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere. That has negated any gains achieved in carbon efficiency. Carbon dioxide is created by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, and China is the world’s largest producer of CO2 emissions. It has pledged to reduce carbon density, but during a period of unprecedented growth, the amount of carbon produced has risen by 3 percent. Research published in the journal Nature Climate Change reports marked improvements in China’s economically advanced coastal areas and industrialized inland regions, but not in less economically advantaged provinces. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, and reducing the amount produced by burning fossil fuels is a goal shared by scientists around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Write a short editorial summarizing one effort and how successful you think it will be.

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.