, week of
Aug. 05, 2019
1. Dream Dino Discovery
Students who love dinosaurs often dream of discovering one on their own. A college student exploring a dinosaur field in the state of North Dakota this summer actually got to live that dream. Harrison Duran, a 23-year-old biology student at the University of California at Merced, discovered the 65-million-year-old skull of a triceratops while on a two-week dig in the area of North Dakota known as the Badlands. Working with North Dakota college professor Michael Kjelland, Duran first found the fossil horn of the triceratops, then an eye, the nose horn, and the beak. Later, they found a cheekbone. All together, the skull measured about five feet in length. “Every day … the better it got,” Duran told a local TV news station. Finding the skull, fulfilled a lifelong dream for Duran. “I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a kid,” he said. Fossil and dinosaur discoveries give scientists a better understanding of what life was like on Earth in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another fossil discovery that is helping scientists understand the past. Prepare a short report for family or friends telling what has been found in the new fossil discovery and why that is important.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Big Boy Is Back
Big Boy is on a roll this month — and railroad fans couldn’t be more excited. This Big Boy is the world’s largest steam locomotive and the only one of its kind still working. It is back in action after a 2.5-year restoration, calling attention to one of the great milestones in U.S. transportation. Big Boy is making stops across the Midwest to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The Transcontinental Railroad linked the eastern and western United States for the first time and made the movement of people and goods faster and easier. Just 25 of the Big Boy engines were built in the early 1940s, primarily for hauling freight through mountain areas in the state of Utah. This Big Boy — No. 4014 — was retired in 1961, after traveling more than 1-million miles on western rail lines. Its current journey will last until August 8. The Transcontinental Railroad was a major achievement in U.S. transportation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a big achievement in transportation today. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining why this achievement is important and who it will help the most.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. What a Fish Story!
People who like to go fishing often tell “fish stories” about big ones that got away. Two boys in the state of Minnesota have a real fish story to tell — and their fish didn’t get away. The boys landed a gigantic sturgeon from a local creek, and they didn’t even use a fishing rod! Twelve-year-old Mac Hoekscra and 14-year-old Owen Sanderson caught the huge fish using nothing but a rope. After spotting the sturgeon, the boys waded into the Minnehaha Creek in the city of Edina and slipped the rope around its tail like a cowboy’s lasso. When they tugged the rope, it tightened on the tail and they were able to drag it to shore. Video of the catch showed the sturgeon was 73 inches long — bigger than either boy. After measuring the fish, the boys released it back into the creek. Experts estimated it was about 70 years old. Kids often make news for having exciting or unusual experiences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone your age having an unusual experience. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie about this unusual experience. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene. Share with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. ‘Finders Keepers’
If you are looking for a gem of a park to visit on summer vacation, you can’t do better than Crater of Diamonds State Park in the state of Arkansas. As its name suggests, it’s loaded with diamonds, and if you find one, you can keep it under the park’s “finders keepers” rule. This summer, a teacher visiting from the state of Nebraska made the find of the year while exploring the park’s “diamond search area.” There on the ground was a 2.12 carat, pear-shaped brown diamond — the biggest diamond found this year at the park. Teacher Josh Lanik knew right away the jellybean-sized stone was something special, and tucked it away to show the staff at the park’s Diamond Discovery Center. They were as excited as he was, informing him it was the biggest diamond of the 296 found so far this year. State and national parks offer many attractions for visitors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a park that has attractions you would like to see. Use what you read to create an ad for the newspaper to get people to visit this place. Give your ad an eye-catching headline. Share with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Two of a Kind
Carson Pickett has overcome a lot to become a member of the Orlando Pride team in women’s professional soccer. She is a great athlete, and hasn’t been held back by a birth defect that left her without a hand on her left arm. At a recent home game, Pickett met and inspired a 22-month-old toddler who has the same birth defect on the same arm. A photo of her tapping arms with young Joseph Tidd went viral on the Internet as an example of the bonding that can occur when people share an experience. After the game, the 25-year-old Pickett spent half an hour playing with Joseph while Joseph’s father spoke with Pickett’s parents about raising a child who has only one hand. People can support and encourage each other in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone supporting someone else. Use what you read to write a short editorial thanking the person for showing support this way, and pointing out how his/her action could inspire others.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.