For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 11, 2024



Last week, President Biden gave the 2024 State of the Union address as 32.2 million Americans tuned in. Among the topics covered, Biden addressed Trump—though not by name, instead referring to him as “my predecessor—the economy, abortion rights, climate change efforts, and more. Senator Katie Britt of Alabama delivered the Republican response. Elected in 2022, she is the youngest Republican woman elected to the Senate and the first woman Senator for Alabama. Watch or read more of Biden’s State of the Union remarks and Britt’s responses. Then, write an article that compares the two speeches, from topics covered to the tone of the messaging.


A terrifying new scam uses artificial intelligence to mimic people’s voices and make it sound like they’re being held for ransom. While deepfake images and videos have been a topic of conversation throughout the AI boom the past year, the new scam uses a different type of media: voice cloning that can mimic a loved one’s voice and say anything the user wants. While computer voices are nothing new—think Alexa and Siri—the new synthetic voices are more realistic and less robotic. A New York-based company called ElevenLabs released a new feature in 2022 that would allow users to clone voices in more than two dozen languages, complete with breathing sounds, based on a 45-second recording of the person. Similarly, Microsoft’s Vall-E program, which is not available to the public, can replicate voices from just three seconds of audio. Currently, there aren’t adequate laws to regulate the use of AI, particularly when it comes to imitating people or being used in a crime. Write an article in which you explain the issues with voice cloning and what you think lawmakers should to do protect the public.


Following the State of the Union address on Thursday, President Biden’s microphone was still on when he privately expressed frustration about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he needed to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with the Israeli leader. Biden addressed Israeli’s role in the war in Gaza during his speech, calling on Israelis to do more for the civilians in Gaza as they fight the militant group Hamas. The president has become increasingly vocal about his frustration with Netanyahu and his government’s unwillingness to allow more aid into Gaza, negotiate a cease-fire, or consider a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict. Research and write an article on Biden’s remarks and actions toward Netanyahu and how they’ve evolved over the past several months.


A therapist recently put a name to what many Americans are experiencing because of today’s political climate: election stress disorder. Dr. Steven Stosny coined the term in 2016, noting that he had received a significant number of distress calls as a result of that year’s election cycle. Now, he says, it’s back in full swing. It comes from an anxiety response, or an increase in cortisol in the body, as a result of the news or political conversations. This anxiety can lead to hostility and anger, which can be seen in outbursts and arguments on social media, which can in turn increase anxiety in a cyclical pattern. Stosny suggest people focus on the values instead of policies, as that’s where more common ground can be found, and focus on political empowerment through lobbying, writing letters to officials, and participating in demonstrations to feel like you’re making meaningful change. Have you noticed any changes in behavior of those around you, particularly the adults in your life, as the election approaches? How would you suggest people combat election stress disorder? Using research, write an article that explains the effects of stress on the body and suggests ways for people to manage their mental health during election seasons.


Former President Donald Trump is appealing the verdict in his civil case against writer E. Jean Carroll, who sued him for defamation. In order to appeal, Trump had to secure a $91.6 million bond from the Federal Insurance Co. that would cover the damages he is supposed to pay Carroll, plus interest, in the original verdict. He also owes a $454 million penalty, plus interest of about $112,000 a day, in a case where he was found liable for lying about his wealth in financial statements. He has to pay the penalty or buy a bond for the amount by March 25, but his lawyers have argued that he should be allowed to appeal before paying up, as he may need to sell some of his properties in order to cover the cost. Research and write an update on the current status of Trump’s various legal cases that he’s facing in different states and federal court.