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for Grades 5-8

Nov. 17, 2014
Nov. 10, 2014
Nov. 03, 2014
Oct. 27, 2014
Oct. 20, 2014
Oct. 13, 2014
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Sep. 29, 2014
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Apr 28, 2014
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Mar. 31, 2014
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Mar. 17, 2014
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Mar. 03, 2014
Feb. 24, 2014
Feb. 17, 2014
Feb. 10, 2014

For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 17, 2014

1. New Battery to Cut Costs

Scientists have come up with a hybrid battery that combines the features of a solar cell with those of a rechargeable battery. This could dramatically reduce the cost of generating energy, Ohio State University researchers report in the journal Nature Communications. The research team has developed a titanium mesh solar panel that “allows air to enter the battery … transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrodes.” By “breathing in” air when it discharges, it needs only three electrodes and decreases costs because it apparently eliminates “the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery.” Ground-breaking inventions make news every day. In the newspaper or online, find a report about a new invention or product. Read the story closely and write a summary explaining what this invention/product does that previous products could not do.

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. Beach Won’t Be Named for Obama

A proposal to rename a popular Hawaiian beach after President Obama has been withdrawn by its advocates in Honolulu City Council. Their proposed bill — to change the name of Sandy Beach Park to President Obama Sandy Beach Park — was dropped because of historical and cultural concerns from the community. The beach was a favorite of the future president when he was growing up in Hawaii and is popular with body-surfers. During a 2008 vacation, Obama himself body-surfed there. Beaches are popular places for outdoor recreation. In the newspaper or online, find a place in your community or region that is popular for outdoor recreation. Imagine visiting the place with your friends. Draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing you and your friends having outdoor fun at the site.

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.

3. Hog Hunts

Wild feral hogs are rooting up grass that keeps wind and rain from eroding levees in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, so the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority is financing pig-killing posses. The authority estimates that at least 70 percent of the fast-breeding hogs must be killed each year just to keep the numbers steady. The levees protect the parish from flooding from the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, and the authority is paying the parish sheriff’s office to send deputies onto the levees to hunt the hogs. It is not the first hunt to be tried to control wildlife in the area. The sheriff’s office notes that similar hunts have been undertaken to control coyotes and giant nutria river rats, which can grow up to two feet long. Controlling the populations of fast-growing wildlife species can be a challenge to communities. It also can be controversial, because some people oppose using hunts to reduce numbers. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a wildlife species whose numbers are growing. Discuss ways other than hunting to control the species. Then use points from your reading and the discussion to write an editorial detailing whether you would decide to use a hunt or another approach if the decision were up to you.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A Good ‘Whey’ to Cook

Everyone knows what Little Miss Muffet was eating in that nursery rhyme — curds and whey — but how many know what “whey” is? It’s the liquid byproduct left over when you strain yogurt, and at least one chef recommends it for boiling pasta and poaching poultry. That’s Eric Skokan’s suggestion in his new cookbook, “Farm, Fork, Food,” and the maker of White Moustache yogurt says a whey brine makes for a juicier, more flavorful turkey. “It also browns better and cooks faster,” one food critic notes. Chefs and food lovers are always looking for interesting ways to cook foods. In the newspaper or online, find a recipe you think sounds interesting for a dish or meal. Read the ingredients carefully. Then use the food ads in the newspaper and online resources to determine how much it would cost to make the dish or meal for a group of four friends. Then write a friendly letter inviting your friends to share this meal.

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

5. Heart Problems Ahead

Obese children and teenagers already show hints of future cardiovascular problems, according to a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They have significantly higher triglycerides, “good” and “bad” cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and insulin. Using echo-cardiogram testing devices, researchers found that part of the heart muscle (the left ventricle) was thicker in the average overweight child, which may or may not be “reversible with weight loss.” In an adult, this is a sign of coming heart problems. Health and fitness issues are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a health or fitness issue important to children or teens. Read the story closely. Then use what you read to write a summary of key points, whom they will affect most, and how soon.

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.