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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 13, 2024

1. GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY

With the push to move toward electric vehicles, sustainable sources of electricity are more important than ever. In a mark of progress against fossil fuels and global warming, a record 30 percent of the world’s electricity was produced by clean energy sources, like solar and wind power, in 2023. Hydroelectric dams produced the largest amount of clean energy, but the growth of hydroelectric power dipped with droughts in India, China, and North America. However, more solar and wind farms have been built around the world, with twice as much generation from solar power than coal in 2023. China built the most, accounting for 51 percent of the world’s new solar power and 60 percent of new wind power last year; China also produced 55 percent of the world’s coal-generated electricity in the same period. Write a summary this story, including research about how solar, wind, and hydroelectric power affect the planet in comparison to coal power.

2. FOR FASHION

Celebrities from all over the world put on their most extravagant attire last weekend for the famous Met Gala, an annual fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Every year has a theme for guests to interpret and base their outfits on—this year was “Garden of Time.” The event wasn’t without controversy, as pro-Palestinian protesters set up nearby and employees of Condé Nast publications threatened to disrupt the event before a contract between their union and the publisher was reached just hours before the event. Read more in your newspaper or online about the dispute between Condé Nast and the unionized employees. Then, write a summary of the dispute and how the publisher is related to the Met Gala event.

3. PLANE TROUBLES CONTINUE

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating airline manufacturer Boeing after the company told regulators last month that they might have skipped some required inspections on the wings of some 787 Dreamliners. A whistleblower from the company also accused Boeing of taking production shortcuts with the Dreamliner that could impact the plane’s structure, and the FAA is investigating those claims as well. The company said there was no immediate flight safety risk from the skipped wing inspections, but it comes as Boeing was already under intense scrutiny fro an incident where a door panel blew off an Alaska Airlines flight in January. In response to the recent rise in issues, Boeing has increased inspections and training and encouraged employees to come forward about safety concerns, which has resulted in a fivefold increase of submissions to an internal reporting portal. If you were writing a story about this topic, who would you interview, what questions would you ask, and what other sources would you use for information? Write an outline of interviews and other information you would seek out and a list of questions for each interview subject.

4. ELECTION CONCERNS

State and federal lawmakers are concerned about the potential for AI-generated deepfakes and disinformation to disrupt the 2024 presidential election. Some states, like New Mexico, have enacted laws that make it a crime to use AI to create content designed to intentionally deceive voters, and advocacy groups have created information campaigns to raise awareness in the public about AI content and what to look out for. In all, 39 states have introduced or passed bills that relate to AI- generated or altered election content. However, federal laws and regulations still haven’t caught up with the rapid advancement of AI technology and the rise in creation and dissemination of misinformation and disinformation on social media in the last decade. Research what people should look for when determining whether something is legitimate or an AI-generated deepfake or misinformation being shared. Then, design a campaign that shares this information to help educate people—it could be a TV commercial script, a digital poster to share on social media, a billboard, or any other medium you think would best grab viewers’ attention. Write what visuals, words, and any multimedia elements you would include, who your target audience is, and what you hope they would take away from your campaign.

5. STUCK ON SCREENS

Experts have been sharing concerns about the future of welfare programs like Social Security and Medicare for years. The two programs, designed to help retirees with living costs and health insurance, are set to run out of money in the next decade or two. Part of the reason is Americans are living longer; with more people retiring, there won’t always be enough money to sustain these programs that are paid for with taxes on workers’ income. As of now, 70 million people receive Social Security benefits and 66 million receive health care benefits through Medicare. A new report shows the programs will last a little longer than previously expected because of a strong job market; Social Security won’t be able to fulfill all its financial obligations in 2035, a year later than previously expected, and the same for Medicare in 2036, five years later than previously estimated. Research how these programs affect Americans who are retired or expecting to retire soon and what the 2024 presidential candidates have said they would do about it. Then, write an article that summarizes what you learned.