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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 26, 2018

1. Holiday Shopping

With three major holidays, December is the busiest shopping month of the year. To attract shoppers, stores and companies offer special products, and feature a variety of cost-saving sales and promotions. What products and promotions are getting the most attention this year? Use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read stories about “hot” products or promotions. Use what you read to write a consumer column, predicting which products and promotions you think will be the most popular and successful.

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 to support conclusions.

2. Space Game

What would it be like to run a space mission seeking to gather new information about our solar system? A new board game available just in time for the holidays can give you that experience. Not only that, it is designed by a scientist leading a U.S. space mission set to rendezvous with an asteroid on December 3! The game — called Downlink: The Game of Planetary Discovery — puts players in the position of planning and executing space missions involving America’s NASA space agency, plus the agencies of four other nations and the European Union. It was designed by Dr. Dante Lauretta, the lead investigator for America’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which will collect materials from the asteroid Bennu and return them to Earth. It is the first time a space mission will bring back materials from an asteroid. Bennu orbits the sun between the planets Mars and Venus, the two planets closest to Earth. Dr. Dante Lauretta turned a real-life situation into a board game. In teams or pairs, search the newspaper and Internet and read stories about a situation that could be turned into a game for fun. Use what you read to brainstorm how the game would work and what the game board would look like. Write out the rules for your game and how players would win. Draw the game board and share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Ancient Art

In the study of human history, scientists have long wondered when people developed the brain-power and skills to create works of art to represent things they saw or experienced. A discovery in a cave on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia indicates that human artistic ability may have developed more than 40,000 years ago. The discovery was a drawing on a cave wall showing a type of wild cattle that lived in the Borneo jungles. It was drawn in a red color, and high-tech testing indicates it may be the first figure drawing created by humans. Up to now, statues of horses and birds found in the European nation of Germany were the oldest known examples of figurative art. The Borneo drawing is believed to be slightly older, based on testing involving the element uranium. But scientists are intrigued that humans developed the skill to create art at about the same time on opposite sides of the world. People use visual arts like painting to interpret the world as they see it. In the newspaper or online, find a photo of a painting in which an artist interprets a scene or situation. Write a short art review to explain how you think the artist sees the world. Then find and read a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Create a drawing or painting to interpret the situation in your own special way.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. More Malaria Cases

Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes that can cause illness and even death in children and adults. For nearly 20 years efforts to fight it have led to a decline in cases around the world, but that is now changing, according to the World Health Organization. In 13 nations in Africa and South America, cases are on the rise, WHO reports in its 2018 World Malaria Report. The increase in those nations pushed malaria cases worldwide up by more than 2 million, WHO says. Shortages of bed nets that keep mosquitoes away and medicines for treating malaria were key reasons the number of cases rose to 219-million worldwide in 2017. Hardest hit nations include 10 in Africa and three in South America. An estimated 435,000 people died of malaria around the world in 2017. The increase in malaria cases is a health problem affecting many nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another health problem affecting many nations. Use what you read to write a short editorial, outlining ways nations could work together to address the problem — and ways the United States could lead the effort.

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.

5. What a Crater!

If a meteorite hit the Earth and caused a 19-mile-wide crater, you’d think people would know about it. But not if it’s been covered by ice for thousands of years. That’s what a team of scientists have discovered in the arctic nation of Greenland, which covers an area that stretches almost to the Earth’s North Pole. Using high-tech radar equipment, the researchers have discovered a huge crater created by a meteorite under Greenland’s Hiawatha Glacier. The crater is about 1,000 feet deep and 19 miles wide, researchers reported in the journal Science Advances. They believe the crater was caused by an iron meteorite that struck the Earth as far back as three million years ago. The discovery of the meteorite crater in Greenland is giving scientists new information about the early history of the Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another discover that is shedding new light on the Earth’s early history. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper explaining the importance of the discovery.

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 to support conclusions.