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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 17, 2022

1. Successful Crash

What would America do if a giant asteroid were hurtling through space on a collision course with Earth? A successful experiment by America’s NASA space agency this fall indicates that the answer might be to crash a space craft into the asteroid to knock it off course. That’s just what NASA did with an asteroid orbiting about 7-million miles from Earth. NASA crashed a space craft into the asteroid known as Dimorphos (di-MORE-fus) at 14,000 miles per hour — and successfully changed its orbit around a larger asteroid, NASA officials announced. The collision was a “redirection test” designed as NASA’s first “planetary defense” mission. Its goal was to test whether this technique would deliver enough of a punch to knock the asteroid significantly off course. It did, and NASA officials were delighted. “We showed the world NASA is serious as a defender of this planet,” said Administrator Bill Nelson. NASA space missions seek to do things in space that have never been done before. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such mission. Use what you read to write and design an informational brochure telling what the mission has accomplished and why that is important to scientists. Choose photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your brochure.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. 4-Day Work Week?

For people with full-time jobs, most work weeks are five days long in the United States and other nations. But would workers be more productive if they worked less? A first-of-its-kind experiment in the European nation of England is wrapping up next month, and researchers are hoping it will shed new light on the benefits of a four-day work week compared to a five-day schedule. The experimental program is the largest of its kind ever undertaken, covering 3,300 workers from 70 companies, according to the 4 Day Week Campaign, which is running the program with the 4 Day Week Global non-profit group and other researchers. And what have the researchers found out? For starters, employees are happier and healthier with a schedule that pays them full pay for 80 percent of the time they previously spent on the job. Employers say there has been no drop in creativity, but there have been snags dealing with emergencies and the expectations of clients, CNN News reports. Offices also have had to make adjustments to allow employees to stay focused and productive. One business installed “traffic lights” on employees’ desks, with green lights meaning they were available to talk, and red meaning “stay away!” Businesses often try new things to make employees happier and more productive. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about businesses that are doing this. Use what you read to write a business column, highlighting different approaches and which you think would be the most effective.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking.

3.‘Ghost Boat’

Dry weather and extreme heat have caused lakes around the world to shrink this summer. And that has revealed unusual items from the past ranging from dinosaur tracks to ancient ruins to Nazi warships. In the state of California, the receding waters of Lake Shasta have put a spotlight on another military boat — and a mystery no one can explain. As the waters dropped, a U.S. landing craft from World War II came into view, positioned as if it were bringing U.S. soldiers ashore. It had indeed done that nearly 80 years ago, the New York Times newspaper reported. Markings on the vessel — called a Higgins boat — indicated it had been used in two crucial battles during the Second World War. The first was the 1943 invasion of Sicily at the tip of Italy, a key moment in the war in Europe. The second was the battle for the island of Tarawa, the first conflict in the U.S. campaign to establish launching points in the Central Pacific Region from which to attack Japan. The landing craft, labeled 31-17 and nicknamed “the ghost boat,” was sunk at Tarawa but was later salvaged. How it got from an island in the Pacific Ocean to Lake Shasta, remains a mystery. “These landing craft were used in every amphibious invasion of World War II,” one military historian said. “To find one [more than] 75 years later in the bottom of a lake in California — it really is a miracle.” Military events and history are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a military story. Use what you read, and additional research, to write paragraph or short paper, telling about this military event and why it was significant.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Another Pumpkin Record

America’s pumpkin wars are heating up. Just 10 days after a grower from New York State set a new American record for the heaviest U.S. pumpkin, a grower from the state of Minnesota grew one that was even bigger. The 2,560-pound pumpkin grown by Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota narrowly topped the U.S. record — by a mere 6 pounds or just 2/10 of 1 percent of its total weight. Gienger’s massive pumpkin didn’t set a new world record. That honor goes to a grower in the European nation of Italy who grew a 2,702-pound pumpkin in 2021. But Gienger’s pumpkin was enough to top the U.S. record set just 10 days earlier by New York grower Scott Andrusz, whose 2022 pumpkin weighed 2,554 pounds. Gienger says he will carve a jack-o-lantern from his record pumpkin in an attempt to set a new record for biggest jack-o-lantern. In sports, business and pumpkin-growing, people set new records every week. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about two new records that have been set. Create a chart comparing the two records, how they were set and what skills and personal qualities people needed to set them. Give your chart an eye-catching title. Draw original illustrations for your chart, if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Sinking Cities

In coastal areas all over the world, cities and residential neighborhoods are being threatened by rising sea levels caused by global warming. On the continent of Asia, the threat is being made worse by another problem. Cities along the coasts of South and Southeast Asia are sinking due to poorly controlled development and construction. The sinking — what scientists call “subsidence” — is occurring most in cities built on “flat, low-elevation river deltas,” according to a new report published in the journal Nature Sustainability. Some cities are sinking more than a half inch a year, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Coastal areas around the world face many problems caused by weather, global warming, development and rising sea levels. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about problems faced by one coastal area. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation on the problems faced by this area, the cause of the problems, what is being done to address them and what remains to be done. Deliver your presentation for the class.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.