, week of
Sep. 01, 2014
1. Giant Holes in the Ground
A favorite children’s song declared that “there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” In the nation of Russia, there isn’t a hole in the sea, but at least three giant holes in the ground have been discovered in the northern part of the country above the Arctic Circle. One is 195 feet across and about 300 feet deep; another is 13 feet across and 200 to 325 feet deep; and a third is about 50 feet across (with a depth not yet determined). Two of the holes are in an area that is rich in natural gas and inhabited by reindeer herders. Scientists are unsure what caused the holes, but one theory suggests they could have been caused by underground explosions of gas caused by global warning. Scientists study the Earth to better understand changes that occur or how conditions developed. With family or friends, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read a story about a natural area. Think like a scientist and write a paragraph describing something you would like to study in the area, based on what you learned in the story.
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.
2. World’s Only Panda Triplets
A set of panda triplets was born this summer at the Chimelong wildlife park in the Asian nation of China. They’re the only panda triplets in the world, according to park officials in the city of Guangzhou (also known as Canton). That’s if they survive. Infant pandas have a high death rate, and while Chimelong officials call the birth of the triplets a “miracle,” they say it’s too soon for them to be declared out of the woods for survival. Pandas, which have black and white fur, are popular with animal lovers, but are endangered in the wild. Only about 1,600 live in natural habitats, making zoo breeding programs important for the survival of the species. Park officials in China are excited to show off their new panda triplets. Draw a series of comic strips showing panda triplets growing up. Give them fun names for added interest! Discuss your strips with family and friends.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. Dolls on the Doorstep
Mothers in San Clemente, California, were mystified not long ago to find porcelain dolls on their doorsteps — and the dolls seemed to resemble little girls living in each house. Mothers who were “very unsettled” by the dolls notified police. The mystery, however, turned out to be neither a prank, as some suspected, or a threat of any kind. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported that the dolls were left in a gesture of “good will” by someone whose daughter no longer wanted them. People often do things to promote good will or happiness in other people. In the newspaper, find a story about someone doing something to make others happy. Write a paragraph describing what the person did, and why it made others happy.
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. Spacecraft Catches Up to Comet
After traveling 10 years and 4 billion miles, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has arrived at its destination — a comet speeding through space toward the sun of our solar system. Rosetta will make the first extended close examination of a comet in our solar system. In November, a landing craft from Rosetta will drop onto the comet and harpoon itself to the surface. Rosetta is named for the Rosetta Stone, which was crucial in decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics writing, and scientists hope the spacecraft will offer important clues as to how the solar system came together 4.5 billion years ago. Space missions seek to learn more about comets, planets and other bodies in the solar system. With the newspaper or the website www.nasa.gov, find a story about a space mission. Write a letter to the editor explaining why this mission is important to scientists.
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.
5. Fruits, Veggies = Longer Life
Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can help us live longer, according to an analysis of 16 studies covering 833,234 people. Scientists from the U.S. and the Asian nation of China note that opinions differ over just how many servings to recommend, but they agree that overall the “average intake across the world is very low.” Reporting in the BMJ medical journal, the researchers call attention to growing evidence of a link between eating fruits and vegetables and reduced chances for death from such diseases as cancer and heart disease. Food ads in the newspaper feature many fruits and vegetables. Find five that appeal to you and design an ad for the newspaper to encourage kids your age to eat them!
Common Core State Standards: 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.
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