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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 26, 2024

1. OCEANFRONT ISSUES

Parts of the east coast are sinking into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s at a slow rate, only a few centimeters per decade, but that amount can still cause problems for buildings, sidewalks, and roads. At the same time, sea levels are also rising around 3.3 millimeters per year. In places that are at sea level, the sinking and rising waters can make flooding worse, especially during big storms or hurricanes. One of the biggest reasons areas are sinking is because people are pumping too much water out of the ground. Groundwater is taken out to water plants, for use in factories and other industrial situations, and for drinking water. However, it can take hundreds of thousands of years for deep sources of rainwater to refill and while it’s gone, the soil can compress and cause the land above it to sink. Write a summary of this story, including at least five facts you learned.

2. BREAKING NEWS

People are getting more and more of their news on Instagram instead of traditional media outlets, like newspapers, news websites, and television news shows. Some traditional news sources have popular Instagram feeds where they share stores in a photo caption or video format. Other accounts feature people talking to the camera like an influencer, sharing headlines and giving their own opinions on the stories. Think about how your family gets news information—do they use social media, read the newspaper in print or online, watch local or national news on television? Do you see any differences in how the people in your life get news information based on their age or other factors? Write a paragraph of at least 5 sentences on this topic.

3. NEW SPECIES ALERT

A new species has been discovered in Japan: the skeleton panda sea squirt. They’re found about 15 to 30 feet deep in the water off the coast of Kume Island, Japan. The 2-centimeter-long creature was first noticed by researchers in 2018 and they’ve been studying them ever since. This year, it was formally given a taxonomic description, or name for its species and genus to identify where it belongs in the animal kingdom. Draw a picture of what you imagine this strange underwater creature would look like based on its name. Then, look up a picture of it to see what it really looks like!

4. MOON PHASES MAKE HISTORY

The lunar lander Odysseus touched down on the moon last week, carrying with it equipment for NASA and another interesting bit of cargo: art! The artist is Jeff Koons, who is famous for making sculptures that look like balloon animals. For this project, he created 125 miniature moon sculptures modeled after the phases of the moon—62 phases as seen from Earth, 62 as seen from different perspectives in space, and one lunar eclipse. The sculptures were packed up on the Odysseus lander and became the first authorized artwork on the moon! Why would someone send artwork to space or want to be the first artist whose work was put on the moon? Write a paragraph about what you think and share your ideas with your classmates.

5. WHALE SONGS

Whales are known for their special singing. The sounds they make can travel throughout the ocean and are used to communicate with others. However, scientists don’t know exactly how they make these sounds. They don’t have vocal cords like we do (nor do they have teeth!). Instead, they have voice boxes with a U-shaped tissue and a pad of fat and muscle that’s unique just to whales. Scientists now think they sing by pushing the tissue against the fat and muscle “cushion,” but they need to do more research to be sure. Write a summary of this story and then write down some things you want to learn about whales—for example, how big they are or what they eat. Then, use research online or in books to find the answers to some of your questions!