1. Chiquita: Top Banana
Chiquita has become top banana in the worldwide banana trade. By acquiring a company in Ireland, of all places, it leaped ahead of the Dole Food Company in size. Chiquita is paying about $526 million for the Irish Fyffes company, which distributes fruit across the continent of Europe. Bananas account for more than a quarter of all fruit eaten in the United States. Along with other fresh fruits, bananas also are a healthy food for meals or snacks. As a class, find fresh fruits in food ads in the newspaper and discuss why they are good for you. Then design a poster featuring these fruits to encourage people to eat them. Give your poster an eye-catching title and a paragraph describing why fruits are healthy food choices.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
2. More Using Public Transportation
More Americans have been using public transportation than at any time in well over a half century. According to the American Public Transportation Association, more passengers used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956. The increase has been tied to improvements in service, the growth of local economies and travelers seeking alternatives to the automobile, as gasoline prices and other costs rise. “A lot of people would prefer to drive less … provided that [there] are high-quality options,” one expert observed. In the newspaper or online, find a photo or story about a kind of public transportation. Write a short letter to the editor urging people to use this transportation, and explain why they should.
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.
3. Books in Space
Amazon has achieved tremendous success as an online bookstore, and soon it will be opening a store in space. Working with the International Space Station, Amazon will stock about 2,000 titles in hardback and paperback for the crews from around the world that come and go every 50 days. Designed to make downtime on the spacecraft more pleasant, the space store is the idea of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is in training for three-day journey to the space station and a space-walk ribbon-cutting to open the store. Not everyone likes the idea of selling books on the space station, because no other store has been allowed to do business there. If you were putting together a list of books for a space station crew, what titles would you choose? Pick three and write a newspaper story or column explaining your choices.
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.
4. Dinosaur Chase in 3-D
How cool is this? A dinosaur chase that took place about 112 million years ago has been re-created by a team of researchers, using photographs of fossil sauropod and theropod footprints discovered in Texas in 1917 and first excavated in 1940. The prints are considered evidence of one dinosaur chasing another. Over time, fragments were sent around the world for display, but not before photos were taken of the entire fossil collection, which stretched for almost 150 feet. These photos, combined with laser scans of remaining tracks, were used as the basis for a new 3-D model of the chase. Technology is helping scientists in more and more ways. In the newspaper, find and read a story about science. Then use what you read to write a paragraph describing ways technology is helping scientists.
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.
5. Elephants Recognize Voices
Elephants can distinguish between human languages, and can tell whether a voice is from a man, woman or child. This was the conclusion of a study at a national park in the African nation of Kenya, where hundreds of wild elephants live among humans. When the elephants hear male adults of the Maasai people, they bunch together or move cautiously (Maasai men occasionally kill elephants in confrontations over grazing for cattle). But they seem unconcerned when they hear Maasai females and boys, or adult males not speaking the Maasai language. In the newspaper, find a wild animal that you think demonstrates intelligence in some way. Draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing this animal’s intelligence in action.
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.