For Grades 5-8 , week of May 20, 2019

1. Moon Rock Mysteries

When U.S. astronauts visited the Earth’s moon in the 1960s and early 1970s, they brought back 850 pounds of moon rocks for scientists to study. Over the next 50 years, examination of those stones revealed much about the age and history of the moon, how it formed and why it looks the way it does. But it didn’t answer all the questions scientists had about the origin of the moon. This spring, scientists hope to answer some of those questions when three new rocks will be released to scientists for study. Up to now, these rocks brought back from the moon have been held in highly-controlled storage, and scientists have never touched them. When they get their chance, they will look for traces of water, measure trapped gases and test for radiation, all with the goal of better understanding how the moon formed. “It’s exciting to open up something new,” said one NASA scientist. “We don’t know what we’ll find.” Scientists are always seeking to learn more about how the moon, the Earth and other planets formed. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about research or a space mission seeking more information about the moon or planets in the solar system. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the research or mission and why it is important to scientists.

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. Really Big Kindness

Sometimes people see themselves in others and want to help them out. That happened this month with basketball great Shaquille O’Neal and a 13-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia he had never met. And what did they have in common? Big feet. O’Neal got involved when he learned that 13-year-old Zach Keith’s mother couldn’t afford the size 18 shoes her son needed. O’Neal, who wore size 18 when he was 18 years old, knew just what to do. He took Keith to Atlanta’s Friedman’s Shoes, which had helped him find shoes when he was a teen. But the story didn’t stop there. O’Neal bought Keith 10 pairs of shoes in different styles, so he would be set for everything from sports to social life. “It was very touching … to know that there's somebody out there that has his back,” said Keith’s mom Brittany of the kindness shown her son. People often make news by offering unusual or random acts of kindness. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person offering kindness in this way. Use what you read to write a short editorial, detailing how this act could inspire others to be kind and why that would make the community a better place.

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. No SEAL Approval

Navy SEALS are among the most celebrated and admired members of the U.S. military. But a SEAL pedigree and career weren’t enough to get SEAL Shaun Donovan a job with the New York Fire Department. The Fire Department turned him down for being too old at age 37 — even though he scored in the top 1 percent of all applicants and easily passed the physical exam. Donovan, who has served four combat tours in the Navy, was told he was six months older than the maximum age for recruits from the military. Donovan has appealed the FDNY decision to the city's Civil Service Commission, CNN News reported, and may file a civil lawsuit if he loses. Meanwhile, other fire departments have said they would be more than happy to offer Donovan a position, including those in Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California. Men and women who serve in the military often put the skills they learned to use in non-military careers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a military person doing this. Use what you read to write a business column telling how military skills and attitudes could benefit the individual in a new career – and how they could benefit a business that hires a military veteran.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Rebuilding Notre Dame

When France’s famous Notre Dame Cathedral was heavily damaged by fire in April, leaders of the European nation vowed that it would be quickly rebuilt and reopened. French President Emmanuel Macron set a rebuilding goal of five years, and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe invited the world’s top architects to submit design ideas in a competition. The first ideas are in, and they would both modernize and celebrate the architecture of the 850-year-old cathedral. Many would replace the cathedral’s destroyed roof with a structure of glass and steel. One would create a public space on the roof with views of the city of Paris. And one would create a green space on the roof featuring solar power and a fruit and vegetable garden that could feed the homeless and needy. Creative designs by architects make buildings special or unusual. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an architect’s creative design for a building. Think like an architecture critic and write a “review” of the design, detailing its features and telling how it would benefit or enhance the community where it is built.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

5. A ‘Wow’ Moment

Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society is America’s oldest performing arts group, and it has seen a lot in the 204 years since it was founded in 1815. This month it got a response from a member of the audience unlike anything it had received before. The Society had just finished performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral Music” at Boston’s Symphony Hall when a child broke the silence after the last notes by joyfully exclaiming “Wow!” The audience laughed at first, but then burst into applause. And the Society was so charmed by the reaction they set up an Internet search for the “Wow Child.” After several days he was identified as 9-year-old Ronan Mattin of Kensington, New Hampshire, who had attended the concert with his grandfather. And then people discovered it was an even bigger “Wow” moment than expected. Ronan, it turns out, has autism and rarely says anything beyond asking for things he needs. “So it was really a super, super exceptional thing” that he reacted to the music, his grandfather Albert Mattin said. To which the head of the Handel and Haydn Society added: “It was one of the most wonderful moments I’ve experienced in the concert hall.” “Wow” moments can involve much more than just saying the word “wow.” They can also be moments when people see or experience something unusual or special. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a “Wow” moment someone has had. Use what you read to write a poem or essay describing what made this moment special. Or write a poem/essay about a “Wow” moment you have had. Read your writings aloud and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.