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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 07, 2023

1. CELL SETTLEMENT

The family of a Black woman whose cells helped advance decades of scientific advances have reached a settlement with the research company that a lawsuit alleges have profited from the cells. Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment of cervical cancer in the 1950s, when she was 31 years old. Cells were taken for a biopsy were kept for research purposes without Lacks’ consent and continued to divide outside her body in test tubes. Known as HeLa cells, they were shared widely for medical research and were used in vaccine development, cancer and AIDS research, and more. The family of Lacks, who died the same year her cells were taken, sued research company Thermo Fisher for profiting off of hHeLa cells without her or the family’s permission. The family and company have now reached an undisclosed settlement. Write an article summarizing the facts of this story, focusing on what HeLa cells are and how they’ve been used.

2. LIGHT BULB MOMENT

The Department of Energy’s new efficiency regulations went into full effect last week, banning the manufacture, sale, and import of lightbulbs used in homes and businesses that don’t meet the new standards. This includes incandescent bulbs, those that originated from a patent filed by Thomas Edison in 1880. Most Americans already use LED lights because of lower prices and higher quality; incandescent bulbs burn out quickly and use up to 90% more energy than LED bulbs. However, critics of the new regulations, like Republican lawmakers, say the ban puts burdens on businesses and takes away choices for consumers. Write a short article about how the new regulations could affect consumers, both positively and negatively.

3. SHEEP WALKING

A shepherd in Spain is keeping up an ancient tradition, guiding some 1,000 sheep on a migration to greener pastures. The sheep are led in part by goats, along with 62-year-old Ángel Mari Sanz, who has led his flocks across the Spanish countryside to the cooler north, where they will graze until they are led back south in the fall. Shepherds and environmentalists advocate for livestock migration, a dying tradition in light of modern farming methods, because it’s more sustainable and helps prevent the spread of wildfires as animals graze along the route. If you were able to accompany Ángel on part of his journey, write down a list of interview questions you would ask him and photos you would want to take in order to capture what it’s like for readers.

4. ANOTHER INDICTMENT

The latest indictment against former president Donald Trump added four charges to the 74 counts he was already facing between state and federal court. The most recent charges involve the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol building and the effort by the former president to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the US government, conspiracy against civil rights, and two charges of obstruction. Conspiracy is the legal term for when two or more people plotted to break the law—in this case, reversing the election results—and then took action to do so, like attempting to stop Congress from certifying the results on January 6. Read more about the latest indictment in your newspaper or online. Then, write a short article that summarizes the facts of this story.

5. PSYCHOLOGY STAND-OFF

The College Board, which oversees advanced placement courses and exams and the SAT nationwide, has said that Florida school districts should no longer offer AP Psychology. The course has been around for thirty years and has always included a unit on developmental psychology that covers gender and sexual orientation. The American Psychology Association supports the inclusion of those topics as a necessary element of human development. However, under the expansion of Florida’s new restrictions in education, instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation is not allowed through 12th grade in most cases. The College Board declined to modify its content for the state and said it would not support the course being taught without gender and sexuality as a part of it. Write an opinion article on whether you think the College Board should allow Florida schools to amend the AP Psychology curriculum to be in line with the state’s laws.