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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 02, 2023

1. TIMBER

A sixteen-year-old boy in England was arrested last week for deliberately cutting down a famous 300-year-old tree. The tree previously stood near Hadrian’s Wall, a landmark that dates back to the Roman Empire some 2,000 years ago and was most famous for appearing in the 1991 movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” A man in his 60s was also arrested for having a part in the tree cutting, but no information has been released about why they might have done it. Why do you think the cutting down of a tree caused widespread anger in England? Do you think the people responsible should be charged with a crime? Why or why not? Write down your thoughts and discuss with your classmates.

2. BUSINESS VS. CASUAL

While the Senate debates plenty of issues that affect us all on a daily basis, one recent issue they tackled was specific only to fellow Senators. While Senators typically have always dressed in business attire, such as jackets, ties, long pants, and dresses, there was never a formal dress code until this week. A few weeks ago, Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader announced they would release the dress code policy and would no longer police the clothes their members wore. That move was particularly for John Fetterman, who is known for wearing a hoodie and shorts throughout the Capitol building. Some disagreed with the relaxed outfit choices, though, and a bipartisan bill was quickly introduced and voted in, requiring the business attire that many already wear on the Senate floor. Do you think the clothing we wear impacts how a person does their job? Think of a few different jobs that require specific attire—how would they be different if people could wear whatever they want? Write down your answers.

3. STUFFED UP

When you have a cold, there are plenty of medicines at any pharmacy that say they’ll make the symptoms better. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that the main ingredient in most of those medications actually isn’t effective. Phenylephrine is safe to use, but a group of experts voted that science does not back up the claim that it’s an effective decongestant for a stuffy nose. Decongestants are supposed to help reducing swelling of blood vessels in the nose, which helps it drain better and create less mucus. In pill form, phenylephrine is absorbed by the stomach and only a tiny bit makes it into the bloodstream and up to the nose. While these products haven’t been pulled from shelves because they are still safe to consume, even if they aren’t helpful at doing what they say they do. Write a short article summarizing the facts of this story and how it might affect people.

4. SPACE MAN

Frank Rubio, a NASA astronaut, set the US record for the most time in space after safely landing from a 371-day mission. He was only supposed to be gone six months on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft he boarded last year, but a leak was discovered last September that could’ve made their recently into the Earth’s atmosphere dangerous. A different spacecraft had to be sent for their return, making his stay the longest of any US astronaut. (The previous record was 355 days.) While away, he studied plants and bacteria as well as how exercise affects humans during long missions in space. Research what we know about how the human body is affected when it goes to space. Write a summary of how Frank Rubio might be different now than when he left more than a year ago.

5. SWAMPCATION

Fans of the DreamWorks Animation movie Shrek can get an immersive experience by booking a replica of the swap hut on Airbnb. It’s located in Scotland and available October 27 through 29 for up to three guests—all for free, as “a nod to the priceless refuge Shrek’s Swamp has provided fairytale creatures of all kinds,” according to the Airbnb listing. The only downside: The bathroom is Shrek’s outhouse, located 20 meters from the main house. Think about a home in your favorite movie or television show. Then, write an Airbnb listing as if it was available to rent out. Where in the real world would it be located and what kind of amenities would there be for guests?