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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 16, 2023

1. UNITY GOVERNMENT

As the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas reaches its second week, the Israeli government has changed its structure to present a more united front. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top rival, Benny Gantz, have created a wartime “unity government” to put aside their bitter opposition to oversee the fighting and protection of the Israeli people. The war has already claimed 2,300 lives and an estimated 150 people have been taken hostage from Israel into Hamas-held Gaza. At least 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes already as a result of the war. Write down facts that you’ve heard so far about the ongoing conflict in Israel. Then, using verified and trusted online resources, fact-check what you’ve heard to see what is true and what might be misinformation.

2. FACIAL RECOGNITION QUESTIONS

As facial recognition software becomes more sophisticated, it’s now being used in airports and theme parks in place of paper or digital tickets. It’s cut down the wait at immigration through the US Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program and has sped in cruise ship check-ins on one line by about 40 percent. However, some experts are warning that it could come with a risk to privacy and security. Biometric data, like fingerprints and facial recognition, cannot be easily changed the way a password can be reset. With AI advancing to create deepfake videos, there’s question of whether criminals will be able to impersonate others by stealing or misusing biometric information. There are also no federal laws regarding the use of biometric data. Do you think the potential risk is worth the convenience of using facial recognition? Why or why not? Write down your thoughts and share with your classmates.

3. DEAL FINALIZED

Microsoft faced scrutiny for its decision to buy Activision Blizzard, the video game company behind Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch, but the company was ultimately given the green light to go ahead with the $69 billion deal from British antitrust regulators that originally wanted to block it. The deal will boost Microsoft’s Xbox console, which is third to Nintendo and Sony’s PlayStation in terms of sales. How could large companies buying up video game makers affect independent game developers? Write down your thoughts, then read these perspectives from indie creators.

4. A JUDGE’S JUDGEMENT

A judge in Oklahoma is at risk of losing her job after she was caught sending more than 500 texts to the courtroom bailiff during a murder trial. The texts were about the trial, including ones calling a key witness a liar and mocking the prosecutor on the case. She was already under scrutiny following the incident, where she was caught scrolling social media and texting throughout the trial of a man who was accused of beating a 2-year-old to death. She has been suspended with pay since the incident in July. Now, Chief Justice John Kane IV of the Oklahoma Supreme Court recommended she be removed from her position after an investigation into her conduct. Do you think there should be rules governing whether judges or other professionals can use cell phones while doing their jobs? Why or why not? Write an opinion article that explains your position on the matter.

5. FASHION FORWARD

The Italian luxury fashion brand Prada will design spacesuits for NASA’s upcoming moon mission, Artemis III, scheduled to launch in 2025. The mission marks the first time a woman will be part of a moon mission with astronaut Christina Hammock Koch slated as part of the crew. Prada has partnered with Houston-based Axiom Space, a commercial space company, to design and engineer spacesuits appropriate for the lunar environment and built for comfort and flexibility. Axiom’s founder cited Prada’s “technical expertise with raw materials, manufacturing techniques, and innovative design concepts” as the reason for the partnership. Consider what factors you can think of that would go into designing a spacesuit, both from a safety perspective and in terms of wearability for long periods of time. Write down what you would focus on and how you would approach the process if you were working on the design.

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