Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 17, 2020

1. Full Ride Times Five

For many families, it’s a challenge paying for a student going to college. Imagine if you had to pay for five students at once. That was the task facing the Povolo family of Totowa, New Jersey this winter. The Povolos had quintuplets — five babies at once — in 2002, and now the quints are high school seniors. They are good students, athletes and have jobs to help pay the bills. And now they are getting to go to college — for free. Montclair State University, which is located near the Povolos’ home in northern New Jersey, has awarded all five of the quintuplets full-ride scholarships. That’s a value of more than $200,000 in total, and a great help to a family that has had to watch its finances at times. “Only a week ago, we went to the bank to ask to refinance the house” to pay for college expenses, dad Paolo Povolo told the CBS New York TV station. With tuition taken care off, the Povolo quints can concentrate on what they want to study. At this moment, they all are interested in different subjects: accounting, diet and nutrition, education, political science and biochemistry. Paying for college is a challenge for many families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different solutions families have found, scholarships that are available and work-study programs that can help defray costs. Use what you read to write a consumer column offering advice to families and students who need help paying for college.

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.

2. Open for Drilling

In the state of Utah, the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments are cherished by Native Americans and nature enthusiasts for their canyons, rock formations and ancient art markings. They also are valued by business interests for the significant amounts of oil, gas and coal they contain. This month, development interests got the green light to explore the area’s natural resources when the U.S. Interior Department finalized plans to permit drilling, mining and grazing in the area. The decision came more than two years after the Trump administration significantly cut the size of the monuments, which had been established by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The decision to open the land to development was designed to “balance” the interests of developers and environmentalists, Interior officials said. It is likely to intensify a legal fight that has already sparked two lawsuits from Native Americans and environmental groups. Those suits have not been resolved in the courts. Balancing the interests of developers and environmentalists is always a challenge to government officials. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a situation in which developers and environmentalists are in conflict over a natural area. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view on how the conflict should be resolved.

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. Mission to the Sun

The sun is the center of our solar system, but there is much scientists still don’t know about it. That could change after the launch this month of a spacecraft that will take a closer look at the sun than ever before. The Solar Orbiter will explore the polar regions of the sun in a first-of-its-kind orbit that will travel from pole to pole instead side to side around the sun’s middle. The mission will also study the high-velocity charged particles that that the sun sends out into the solar system and the magnetic fields that power those particles from the sun’s poles. In addition, the Solar Orbiter will gather information on the cycle of sunspot explosions that occur on the sun roughly every 11 years. The Solar Orbiter is a joint mission of America’s NASA space agency and the European Space Agency. The Solar Orbiter craft will take two years to reach the sun and then complete 22 orbits over the next 10 years. The Solar Orbiter mission is not the only mission seeking new information about the sun. In the newspaper or online, find stories about other missions targeting the sun. Use what you read to prepare a power point presentation detailing what other missions seek to achieve and how that will reinforce what the Solar Orbiter mission is doing.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. Chicken Sandwich Sales

When Popeyes restaurants introduced a new chicken sandwich last summer, it caused a sensation across the nation. Customers waited in long lines to buy the spicy, deep-fried sandwich and ate so many that Popeyes ran out. When Popeyes restocked, the sandwich’s popularity continued at the same high level. As a result, sales at all Popeyes restaurants jumped about 42% to $1.3 billion in the last three months of 2019 compared to the same period a year before. As a result of the surge in business, the company's stock increased about 4% in value in the same period. The buttermilk-battered chicken sandwich was called Popeyes’ “biggest product launch in the last 30 years” when it came out, and it hasn’t disappointed. It “has proven to be a game changer for the brand in every way,” a company spokesman said. The Popeyes chicken sandwich is an example of a product that became hugely popular in a short period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another product that became a “must have” sensation with consumers. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling why you think this product became so popular and whether you think the popularity will last.

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

5. Big Cat Smells

Many people like to wear perfume or cologne because it makes them smell nice when they go to work or out for an evening. They aren’t the only ones turned on by such smells, however. Zookeepers have discovered that big cats like tigers, jaguars and cheetahs also love perfume, and go crazy when they smell it. They love it so much that a zoo in the European nation of England asked people to donate unused perfumes so they can be used in enclosures for the big cats. Zookeepers use perfumes and colognes to give the cats new smells to explore in their pens and living spaces, the Washington Post newspaper reports. When the animals find a perfume they really like, they rub and roll in it as if it were the catnip loved by pet cats. Interestingly, officials at England’s Banham Zoo and other zoos say the more expensive a perfume is, the more popular it is with the big cats. Zookeepers are always looking for new ways to stimulate or entertain animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something a zoo is trying. Use what you read to prepare a TV news report on the effort and how it is being received by the animals. List images you would use, especially for the beginning and end of your report. Present your report to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.