For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 12, 2024


Scientists and engineers in Oxford set a record for nuclear fusion energy, which is the same process that powers the sun and other stars. It’s seen as a strong potential clean energy source as countries move away from their dependency on fossil fuels, but it’s a very complex process that scientists haven’t mastered yet. However, the recent record brings us one step closer, as the team sustained a record 69 megajoules of energy for five seconds. It was enough energy to power about 12,000 households for the same amount of time and used just 0.2 milligrams of fuel. New machines being build in France and the UK have the potential to produce a higher amount of energy, potentially moving toward a functional power plant many years in the future. Still, scientist is point out that we can’t wait for fusion energy to address climate change, as it will be too late to help the environment by the time fusion energy is properly developed for commercial use. Write a paragraph explaining how fusion energy would change the world from several different perspectives like consumers, business owners, government officials, and more.


Uber Eats is facing backlash for its recent ad that was planned to air during the Super Bowl. The ad features several celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham, Usher—who’s performing the sporting event’s halftime show—Jelly Roll, and more. The ad is about forgetfulness and in one scene, a man has an allergic reaction while eating peanut butter out of the jar while saying, “there’s peanuts in peanut butter?” Many people criticized the ad, which was revealed on the TODAY show, for making light of food allergies and forgetting food ingredients that can affect allergies. The Food Allergy Research and Education nonprofit says that at least 33 million Americans have a food allergy. Uber has announced they will edit the statement out of the final ad. Write a letter as if you were either the CEO of Uber or the Food Allergy Research and Education addressing the ad and its backlash.


Winners from the 2024 Olympics will have something extra special to take home with them from the Paris Games this summer. Each of the medals will have a piece of iron from the Eiffel Tower embedded in the center. The 1,083-foot-tall tower was originally designed to stand for 20 years but has stood for more than 135 so far. Part of that has been a result of restoration projects, including the parts that are swapped out that will now be used in the medals. The pieces were polished, varnished, and stamped with “Paris 2024,” the logo for this year’s Games, and the Olympic rings. Even the clasps that hold the iron in place on the gold, silver, and bronze medals are a nod to the tower and the rivets that bind it together. Research prior Olympics medals and how they represent the country and Games they are from. Then write an article that summarizes what you learned and include facts about the new Paris medals.


Apple released its new virtual reality device, the Vision Pro, last week to great fanfare. The new device will pair with any Apple device, like the iPhone, and allow the engage with the digital realm via virtual reality. Videos shared across social media following the device’s release painted a troubling picture, though, of people driving Teslas using the Autopilot function while wearing the Apple Vision Pro headsets. While many seem staged, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg put out a reminder on social media that even advanced driver assistance systems like Autopilot require a human driver to be actively engaged and paying attention. Write a short article about the new headsets, including how you think virtual reality could influence future trends in society.


Apple’s virtual reality release caused headlines for a totally separate reason, too. It was the latest in a series of current events supposedly predicted by the animated television series “The Simpsons.” The long-running comedy has become something of a conspiracy theory, with fans pointing out that the show seems to have foreshadowed events from the innocuous, like the introduction of autocorrect and the US Men’s curling team winning a gold medal, to the historic, like Donald Trump becoming president. In this case, the show aired an episode in 2016 that showed everyone wearing virtual reality sets and running into things as they navigate around town. Research more on “The Simpsons”’ ‘predictions’ and write an article that summarizes what you learned.