, week of
Aug. 24, 2015
1. Mayors & Climate Change
About 60 of the world’s mayors have pledged to combat global warming and help the poor deal with its effects. Gathering in Europe’s Vatican City, they were responding to Pope Francis’s encyclical letter on the environment, and preparing for a global summit meeting on climate change in December in Paris, France. Addressing the two-day conference, the pope thanked the mayors, observing that “we can’t separate man” from concern for the environment because there is “a mutual impact.” Climate change has been in the news throughout 2015. Stories have focused on effects ranging from habitat changes to hurricanes to wildfires. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about the different effects of climate change. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips, illustrating different effects.
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.
2. War Archaeology
A team of students and volunteers is digging at a New York State site where soldiers from the British and French colonial empires fought each other more than 250 years ago. They’re unearthing a low stone wall and a nearby structure along the edge of Lake George Battlefield Park. The structures are believed to have been built during what history books call the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The park is on land where British and colonial American troops fought together against the French and Indians in 1755 and where a large British encampment was besieged two years later. Artifacts unearthed in the area include uniform buttons, musket balls and bones from livestock killed to feed the troops. Archaeologists try to learn about the past by studying artifacts and items used by earlier people. What could future archaeologists learn from things that we use? Scan the ads in today’s newspaper and pick out five to 10 items used today and list them on a sheet of paper. For each, write a complete sentence explaining what it could teach future archaeologists about how we live.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. Hitch-Hiking Robot Trashed
Hitchbot, a robot that hitch-hiked across Canada, Germany and the Netherlands in Europe, lasted only two weeks in the United States. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — after it had explored New York City and Boston, Massachusetts — someone ripped off the robot’s head and both arms. Unable to move by itself, Hitchbot wrote on its website that “My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade.” Hitchbot was equipped with GPS, video and audio software and was programmed to ask humans to give it rides to new locations. It was powered by flexible solar panels and had foam arms designed for handshakes and hugs. It communicated remotely with its creators in Canada. There have been no arrests in the robot “mugging.” Hitchbot was designed to use technology in a new way to measure human reactions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about a new use of technology. Write a “review” of what this technology can do and how effective it is. Write your review in the style of a business columnist.
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.
4. Stand and Be Healthy!
Where health is concerned, standing is better than sitting. Not only does standing improve the body’s levels for blood sugar, fats and cholesterol, but walking around school or the neighborhood can help lower a person’s body mass index, a new study concludes. “If people can incorporate alternatives to sitting wherever possible, it may benefit their heart and metabolic health,” researchers write in the European Heart Journal. Many health studies have concluded that being active is healthier for teens and adults than sitting for long periods of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and information about different ways to be active. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short TV commercial that would highlight new and fun ways to be active. Write an outline for your commercial, including visuals you would use. Then write the first scene. Share with family and friends.
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. A Splashless Jump
The water strider is a pretty amazing insect. It not only can skate across puddles, but it can escape predators like frogs or fish by jumping straight into the air. What’s more, by drawing its legs inward and pushing down on the water surface, the strider can jump without breaking the water’s surface and leaving a splash. “We don’t actually know how” the strider does it, researchers said this summer, but it is “one of the most fascinating kinds of locomotion in nature.” Scientists study the behavior of wildlife to learn more about how species survive and succeed in nature. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife study. Use what you read to write a summary of the story, highlighting the most important points.
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.