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For Grades K-4 , week of July 31, 2023

1. ARE THERE ALIENS?

UFOs are back in the news after three retired officials said the US government has evidence of alien spacecraft and the “non-human” pilots. The officials, who were testifying under oath before the House of Representatives, did not provide any proof of their claims, said the government had likely been aware of non-human activity since the 1930s. In response, the Pentagon denied the claims that they covered up evidence of aliens and that they had not discovered “verifiable” information about UFOs. Write a short opinion piece on why you think the government might keep aliens a secret from the public. Illustrate your story with a drawing of what you think aliens or their spaceships would look like.

2. TICK TROUBLE

At least 100,000 Americans have developed an allergy to red meat, like beef and pork, in the last ten years, and scientists have recently discovered an unlikely cause: ticks. The particular species of the bug, the lone star tick, is common in the Eastern and Southern United States. Its spit can contain a sugar that, when it enters the body, can cause a severe allergic reaction when the person eats red meat or dairy. One report estimates it may now be the tenth most common food allergy in the country. Many people with the allergy didn’t associate it with food at first because the reaction can happen hours later. If you were writing an article about this, write down some sources you would talk to and questions you would ask to get the information people might want to know.

3. HEALTH SCARE

Bronny James, the son of basketball star LeBron James, went into cardiac arrest—an irregular heart beat that can cause a person to stop breathing—while at basketball practice at the University of Southern California. The 18-year-old was rushed to the hospital, where he was treated for three days before going home. The team was holding offseason practices to prepare for a two-week European tour in August. His father is starting his twenty-first season in the NBA this fall. If you were a reporter, think about what you would have to consider when writing a story about the health of a young athlete like Bronny. How would you balance his and his family’s privacy with the public’s interest in him? Write down your thoughts and share them with your classmates.

4. BUGGING OUT

Los Angeles has a new namesake: the Los Angeles Thread Millipede. The tiny creature is the length of a paper clip and only as wide as pencil lead, with 486 legs to help it navigate underground burrows. Because it lives underground, it’s blind and has instead developed antennas to help it feel where it’s going. The new species was discovered by graduate students who were hiking in Southern California and was sent to researchers at Virginia Tech. What would you do if you saw an unusual bug while out on a walk with your family or friends? Brainstorm what characteristics you would look for and what tools you would use to identify the bug, and what you would do with it if you couldn’t find any information about it.

5. “GIRL DINNER”

Popular fried chicken fast food chain Popeyes jumped on a TikTok trend for a new menu item. Users on the social media platform are posting videos of meals made only of side dishes and/or snacks, dubbed “girl dinner.” Seeing an opportunity, the restaurant announced a “Girl Dinner” menu item of its macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, French fries, red beans and rice, coleslaw, and biscuits—with its signature fried chicken not included. A nutritionist weighed in on the trend, explaining that having a variety of foods can actually be more satisfying than a large portion of just one thing because you can add more textures, flavors, and nutrients. Think about ways this trend, including the name, might be healthy or harmful. Write down your ideas and share them with your classmates.

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