, week of
Nov. 06, 2023
1. THERE’S ALWAYS A WAY
Former TV star and children’s book author Henry Winkler just released a new book, a memoir about his life. But being an author didn’t come easily to Winkler. He has dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it harder to read and process language. “There is always a way,” he says. “You think you can’t do something, but there is a way.” Think about an obstacle that’s keeping you from doing something you want to do, whether it’s something within you—a physical or mental ability or disability—or something in the outside world. Write down your goal, the obstacle in your way, and think of at least three creative ways you could overcome that obstacle. If you need help thinking of some, ask a classmate how they would approach your obstacle—sometimes it helps to get someone else’s perspective!
2. NOW AND THEN
Thanks to modern technology, the Beatles were able to release their final single, “Now and Then.” It features the four members of the band playing and singing together, despite the fact that two of them died decades ago. John Lennon’s vocals and piano part were recorded at his home in 1977. With the help of artificial intelligence, which separated John’s audio from background noise, they were able to preserve his vocals and use it to complete the song he started almost 50 years ago. By putting it together with a recording of George Harrison playing the guitar from 1995 and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr recording their vocals and the drum part last year, they were able to release the group’s final song last week. Listen to the song or read the lyrics online. Do you think the song is better knowing it took almost 50 years to make? Why or why not? Write down your thoughts and share with your classmates.
3. BIRD BRAIN
A new study shows that roosters might recognize their own reflections in mirrors. Scientists used a version of a mirror test that’s been around since the 1970s: A psychologist put red dye on chimpanzees’ faces. When they were in front of a mirror, they would look at and touch the red spot on their faces, which made the psychologist believe the chimps recognized that they were looking at themselves, not another animal. Only a few other animals, like dolphins and elephants, have passed the mirror test. Roosters failed the same version of the test, but scientists thought of a way to test it that made more sense for the birds. Roosters crow to warn each other of danger but are quiet when they’re alone and see a predator. Researchers used this set-up to see if they would crow to their reflection, thinking it was another rooster, but they stayed quiet. Why do you think it would be smart to have different tests for different kinds of animals? Use at least three different animals to explain your answer.
4. VENUS LIKE US
The atmosphere on Venus is very different from Earth. The temperature on the second planet from the sun is about 860 degrees Fahrenheit—more than 6 times hotter than the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. But scientists who study astronomy now think that Venus may have had a feature similar to Earth: tectonic plates, or parts of the planet’s outer crust that continuously move and rearrange. Plate tectonics are how we have mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. If it’s true that Venus also had tectonic plates billions of years ago, the planet was probably much cooler then and may have had forms of life on it. Why might knowing the history of other planets be useful for us here on Earth? Write down your ideas and share them with your classmates.
5. FALL BACK
Last Sunday marked the end of Daylight Savings Time, when most Americans moved their clocks back one hour. That shift means an extra 60 minutes of sunlight in the morning. The practice started during World War I as a way to need less artificial lighting and therefore save money. It was used again during World War II and then on and off until the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which set the “spring forward” and “fall back” dates in the US. Two states don’t participate in Daylight Savings Time: Hawaii and Arizona. Most countries in Europe still have Daylight Savings Time too, but most other countries do not. Write a short paragraph that summarizes what it means to “fall back” when daylight savings time ends.