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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 22, 2024

1. ELECTION SEASON BEGINS

The 2024 election cycle officially began last week with the Iowa caucus, the first step toward electing a new president. More than 110,000 Republicans turned out to the polls and overwhelmingly selected Donald Trump as their nominee with 51 percent of the vote. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis got 21 percent of the vote and Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had 19 percent. Iowa Democrats voted by mail-in ballot with the results to be announced at a later date. Research how a caucus is different from a primary and which one your state holds. Then, write a brief summary and include information about your state’s primary elections.

2. WHAT’S IN A NAME?

A transgender candidate for the state House of Representatives in Ohio has been cleared to run for office despite having omitted her deadname from qualifying petitions. The little-used state election law could have disqualified the Democratic candidate, who is one of four transgender individuals running for the state legislature. She legally changed her name in 2020, but the law required her to list any name changes in the past five years except for those as a result of marriage. The law isn’t listed on the candidate requirement guide and there isn’t a space on the form to list former names, so she—and many election officials—didn’t know it was a requirement. The county’s election board deemed that she could still be on the ballot despite omitting her former name. Read more about the issue at hand here and write a summary of what the law is and how it has affected candidates.

3. PATENT PROBLEM

New Apple Watch users will no longer have access to a particular feature after Apple lost a patent case with the International Trade Commission. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 featured a measurement for a user’s blood-oxygen level. Apple lost a patent case to Masmio, a medical technology company that originated the pulse oximeter technology, and was instructed to stop selling the watches until the feature is removed. People who already own the watches will still have the feature available, but new watches sold will no longer have access. The pulse oximeter measures the oxygen saturation, or amount of oxygen that red blood cells carry from the lungs throughout the body. Write a paragraph summarizing Apple’s case and what the results are for the company.

4. COURTROOM COMMENTARY

In the courtroom of his defamation trial, former President Donald Trump was threatened with being ejected from the proceedings after several comments he made during testimony. Writer E. Jean Carroll was testifying to the jury about the damage to her reputation after Trump’s public comments about her in 2019, when she accused him of a sexual assault from decades earlier. As she testified, Trump whispered “con job” and “witch hunt” to his lawyer, which a lawyer for Carroll complained to the judge might impact the jury’s decisions. The judge stated, “Mr. Trump has the right to be present here” but said he could forfeit that right if he continued to be disruptive. Write an opinion article about whether you think a plaintiff should be restrained from speaking out in a courtroom and if your opinion changes whether that person is a high-profile individual, like the former president, or an average citizen.

5. E.V. TROUBLES

People with electric cars are facing a new challenge as particularly cold weather hit much of the US this week. Electric vehicle batteries are less efficient, meaning they have a shorter lifespan before needing to recharge, in freezing temperatures. With temperatures in the Northeast and upper Midwest dropping to near or below zero this week, many drivers were stuck in lines at charging stations trying to juice up their cars as they charge slower in cold temperatures too. Some ended up stranded and had to have their cars towed to charging stations when the batteries depleted unexpectedly. Tesla recommends that drivers keep the charge level above 20 percent and use the “scheduled departure” feature to make the car more efficient. If you were a Tesla executive, how would you address the fact that people in cold climates are struggling with their electric vehicles? Write a speech or press statement from that perspective.

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