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for Grades K-4

Sep. 26, 2022
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For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 11, 2022

1. Moon Sample

In the world of folklore, there once was a story in which a simple man believed the moon was made of green cheese. Scientists never believed that old tale, but they continue to wonder what the moon IS made of. This spring, they have gotten a chance to learn more about the make-up of the moon by opening a soil sample that was collected nearly 50 years ago. The sample was taken during the last moon landing by astronauts from America’s NASA space agency back in December 1972. It was gathered by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt during the Apollo 17 mission and was vacuum-sealed before they even took it back to their landing craft. The sample, a cylindrical “core” of soil and rock, had been carefully preserved in storage while NASA and geology scientists developed new ways to analyze samples, CNN News reports. Those scientists now will examine the sample to learn more about the moon’s surface and also to gather any gases captured from the moon’s atmosphere. Scientists hope the analysis will help them develop better ways to sample soils when NASA sends astronauts back to the moon in several years as part of the new Artemis program. Space missions are designed to gather new information about moons, planets and even stars outside our solar system. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of these missions. Use what you read to prepare an oral report for the class, telling about the parts of the mission you find most interesting or important.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Musical Poetry

The Grammy Awards have been given out for 2022, and music stars Olivia Rodrigo, Silk Sonic and Jon Batiste were the big winners. The Grammys honor the top achievements in music each year, but not just the tunes of the songs. The awards also honor the words, which are known in music as “lyrics.” That is fitting, since the Grammys were announced at the start of April, which is National Poetry Month. Song lyrics are a kind of poetry that everyone can enjoy. If you’ve ever memorized verses to a rap song, or sung along to a favorite song online, you have experienced this musical poetry. As a class, talk about the different kinds of music you listen to and how the words tell stories or connect with emotions the way poetry does. Then pretend you are a music critic for the newspaper or an Internet site. Write a “review” of songs by your favorite musical artist, telling how their words rank as poetry.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. Inspired by Salamanders

Blue-spotted salamanders are one of the great stories of spring for nature lovers in the northern Midwest and New England states of the United States. Like other amphibians they migrate each year from forest areas to temporary spring pools formed by rain and melting snow to mate and lay their eggs. It is a dangerous journey, if they have to cross any roads when traveling at night. In the city of Marquette, Michigan, a college student noticed that hundreds of the colorful salamanders were getting squashed by cars as they tried to cross a road in a local park and set out to find a way to save them. Eli Bieri documented how many of the four-inch, hard-to-see salamanders were getting killed and convinced Marquette officials to close off a stretch of the dangerous road during the salamanders’ spring migration. But Marquette officials didn’t stop there, the Washington Post newspaper reports. They embraced the excitement of the migration by offering night salamander tours, and this year they organized a week-long Salamander Days festival. The efforts have been successful. At nighttime in the park this month, the parking lots are packed. Many wildlife species do the same thing year after year when spring arrives. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo about a wildlife species that has special spring habits. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing the spring habit, why it is important and the challenges the species faces doing it.

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. Satellite Pollution

When it comes to pollution, everyone is familiar with air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution and ocean pollution. A less familiar form of pollution is light pollution. Light pollution is the presence of unwanted or bright light in the sky or natural areas. Too much light pollution overpowers starlight, interferes with research of the night skies, disrupts ecosystems and even has adverse effects on health. Like other pollutions, it is caused by human activities and is found all over the world. Now it is coming from space as well, CNN News reports. As more and more satellites are being put into orbit around the Earth, astronomy scientists fear the night sky is being changed forever. In just the last month the SpaceX company launched 40 satellites, and other space companies are putting dozens of satellites into orbit as well. “For the first time in human history, we’re not going to have access to the night sky in the way that we’ve seen it,” said Samantha Lawler, a Canadian astronomy professor and co-author of a paper predicting the impact of satellites orbiting the Earth. The paper notes that the number of satellites has jumped from about 1,000 in 2017 to more than 5,000 today and predicts that in less than 10 years 1 out of every 15 points of light in the night sky will be a satellite. Light pollution is one of many forms of pollution affecting the Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a form of pollution affecting the nation, your state or your community. Use what you read to write a short editorial suggesting ways people or communities could reduce this pollution.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Super-Sized Patriotism

In the state of Maine, on one of the easternmost hills in the United States, a super-sized patriotic attraction soon could rise that would dwarf everything in its area. The attraction would feature the tallest flagpole in the world, a U.S. flag bigger than a football field and 55 individual remembrance-walls displaying the names of every single military veteran in United States history. Called the Flagpole of Freedom Park, the for-profit attraction is being planned by businessman Morrill Worcester, who has won nationwide attention as founder of the Wreaths Across America project that puts Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans each December. If all goes according to plan it would be built on 2,500 acres of land Worcester owns in the small town of Columbia Falls in eastern Maine and open on July 4, 2026, which will be America’s 250th birthday. The flagpole will be 1,461 feet tall and be installed atop a 315-foot hill. That would give the pole an overall height of 1,776 feet, matching the year the United States was founded, 1776. Individuals and communities display their patriotism in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or community doing something to display or express patriotism. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor stating whether you think this is an effective way to show patriotism, and why.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.