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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 13, 2024

1. INVASION IN RAFAH

Israel evacuated tens of thousands of people to leave Gaza’s southern city of Rafah last weekend, despite pressure from the United States and other global allies. The city is important to humanitarian operations in the war-torn region, as it’s near the Egyptian border and serves as one of the main points of entry for aid like food, medicine, and supplies to be delivered to the people of Gaza. Israeli troops already forced a shutdown of the aid route earlier in the week, taking control of the border crossing. The United Nations said that the aid route closure will exasperate what is already a “full-blown famine’ in the northern region of Gaza. Read more about the importance of Rafah and the current status of the Israeli occupation of the border crossing area in your newspaper or online. Then, write a summary about the latest information and how other countries, including the United States, have responded.

2. A LANDMARK CANCER STUDY

Black women die from cancer at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group, and a new study across twenty states aims to find out why. The American Cancer Society is launching a new study called VOICES of Black Women, which will study 100,000 Black women ages 25 to 55, who will be followed for 30 years to see how their “medical histories, lifestyle factors, and experiences of racism affect their risk of developing or dying from cancer,” according to NBC’s reporting on the study. Part of the disparity that this study aims to address is the underrepresentation of Black women in medical research. Historically, Black women were exploited by medical and research systems, which created a distrust of the medical community and could be linked to late cancer diagnoses. To address issues of trust, the American Cancer Society partnered with Black women to design the study respectfully, including allowing the women included to maintain privacy in published research. Research instances of the Black community being exploited by medical professionals (examples include the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Henrietta Lacks’ cells). Then, write a summary of what you learned and about this new study and how the two tie together.

3. BIOLOGY BY WAY OF A.I.

Google has unveiled a new program that it says could change the future of medicine, agriculture, and other biology-based industries. Google DeepMind, part of the company’s AlphaFold program, is an AI-based program that can predict the structure of proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of all living things, and the shape of a protein determines how it functions. By having a better understanding of these shapes, scientists can better understand how different proteins interact with each other and the other molecules it could come into contact with. This information would help drive medicine by creating new antibodies to better fight diseases, engineering crops to be resistant to environmental threats, and forming targeted cancer treatments. Read more about the abilities and implications of Google DeepMind online or in your newspaper. Then, write an article that distills what DeepMind does and how it could impact our future.

4. KENNEDY’S HEALTH RECORD RELEASED

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 70, used his relative health as a large part of his campaign, positioning himself as a fitter alternative to the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees, President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 77. However, a deposition from 2012 recently surfaced and shed new light on Kennedy’s health, revealing that had been diagnosed with mercury poisoning and had a dead parasitic worm in his brain. In the deposition, which was part of the divorce proceedings between Kennedy and his wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, he argued that his earring power was diminished by the cognitive issues, like memory loss and fogginess, that he experienced as a result of these ailments. Kennedy says he has since recovered and has no aftereffects from conditions. Consider why a presidential candidate’s health information could be important to voters. Does the need of the public to make an informed decision about who to vote for outweigh a person’s right to privacy about their private health information? Write an opinion article that outlines your take on the issue.

5. RETIREMENT PROGRAMS REVISITED

More than half of Americans report being on their phones within an hour of going to sleep, which could be disrupting their ability to get good quality sleep. The brain processes electric light as sunlight, which keeps it from releasing melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. Not getting enough sleep is linked with health issues like anxiety, heart disease, obesity. In addition to the light from our phones, the content we consume before bed can also have negative effects. Social media algorithms are designed to keep people scrolling, which can keep the brain from relaxing, too. Think about why people might be motivated to look at their phone while settling in to sleep. How can you encourage people to change those habits in order to get better sleep? Design an informational campaign that shares the reasons people need to get better sleep and ways they can change their habits to improve their sleep. Write what medium you would share your campaign on, what visuals and writing you would include, who your target audience is, and what message you hope they take away from your campaign.

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