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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 11, 2023

1. COLLEGE RANKING

The New York Times recently released the latest installment of their College-Access Index, which debuted in 2014 as a way to see how US colleges stack up in terms of economic diversity. The index looks at what percentage of students have received Pell Grants, which generally go to students from the bottom 50 percent of income distribution, at the 286 most selective colleges in the country. This year, the index is particularly poignant as the Supreme Court recently did away with race-based admissions policies and many schools have recently ended practices of legacy admissions. Berea College in Kentucky tops the list with 94 percent of its freshman students on Pell grants; among the lowest are Bates College in Maine, Fairfield University in Connecticut, Tulane University in Louisiana, and Oberlin College in Ohio, with 8 percent each. The index is a way to display data but must be interpreted in order to explain what it’s showing. Take a look at the index, its criteria, and its methodology. Then, write an article summarizing what the index shows and how that information was derived.

2. MORE CHARGES

The final report from a special Georgia grand jury that investigated claims of election interference in the state last year was unsealed by a judge last week. The grand jury recommended indictments were warranted for 39 people, but prosecutors ultimately pursued 19, including former president Donald Trump. Among the others that the special grand jury recommended indicting were South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Georgia senators David Purdue and Kelley Loeffler, and former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Write an article that summarizes the Georgia case against Donald Trump and the 18 allies that were also charged and explains why the prosecutors may not have pursued charges against all 39 people.

3. CHALLENGE GONE WRONG

A Hersey Company’s subsidiary, Paqui is pulling one of its products from shelves after a teenager died. The tortilla chip company produced the One Chip Challenge, a single tortilla chip made from two of the world’s hottest peppers packaged in a coffin-shaped black box. The challenge, according to Paqui, is to eat the chip and wait as long as possible before eating or drinking and post the reaction to social media. While the packaging indicates the challenge is for adults only, the company is pulling it from shelves after an uptick in children and teenagers attempting it. One teen, Harris Wolobah, died hours after eating the chip. While the cause of his death wasn’t immediately clear, his parents indicated it was one of the last things he ate before facing severe stomach pains. Think about the challenges of reporting on this story when Wolobah’s death hasn’t been conclusively linked to the One Chip Challenge. What legal and ethical problems could a reporter face? Write a paragraph about the concerns and how you would approach the story as a result.

4. EARLY INTERVENTION

A new tool may help diagnose autism in younger children and with more accuracy. By using eye tracking, the new technology can provide objective measurements that help doctors diagnose autism in children as young as 16 months. Clinicians will play scenes of other children’s social interactions and track what a child focuses on to see if it matches what they would expect at that age of development. Research showed that measurements of eye-tracking with videos of social interactions helped accurately diagnose autism 71 percent of the time and accurately determined children did not have autism 80 percent of the time. Write a short article that explains why this technology can help diagnose autism in kids and how early diagnosis could be beneficial, using outside research to support your claims.

5. A SUBJECT STRUGGLE

Math isn’t many students' favorite subjects, and research shows many adults have math anxiety too. Women are more likely to face it, and 90 percent of elementary school teachers are women. Even when teaching beginner level concepts, some educators will avoid math and spend more classroom time on other subjects, which can leave students behind. Most undergraduate and graduate programs don’t focus enough on elementary math content, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. Their studies show that teachers’ math preparation in college is linked to their students’ achievement when they begin teaching. Interview a teacher at your school about why they chose to teach the subject they did and what the training process was like for them to get where they are today.