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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 14, 2023

1. IT’S MONUMENTAL

The United States has a new national monument. Located in the area surrounding the Grand Canyon, the new monument is called Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, which comes from the phrases for “where tribes roam” and “our footprints” in the languages from two Indigenous tribes. The area is home to several tribes and locations they use for ceremonial stories and rituals. Read more about some of the tribes that live in the land encompassed by the new national monument in your newspaper or online. Choose one and write a paragraph summarizing what you learned about them.

2. CLEAN-UP CREW

The United States is funding a new plan to vacuum greenhouse gases from the sky. The $1.2 billion plan will help build two plants that will vacuum carbon dioxide out of the air to help fight global warming. The cost will be split between the government and two companies, Occidental Petroleum and Battelle, who will build the two plants in Texas and Louisiana. Scientists question whether the technology will really help, as it requires a lot of money and energy to do. However, the plants will create 4,800 jobs and are predicted to remove so much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’d be equivalent to taking 500,000 gas-powered cars off the road. Write a short summary of this story and draw a picture of what you imagine a machine that vacuums carbon dioxide out of the air might look like.

3. NO DRIVER? NO PROBLEM

Two “robotaxi” services recently got approval to operate in California. The driverless cars from Cruise and Waymo have been tested for the past year in San Francisco and did cause some issues, including blocking traffic—including emergency vehicles, which were affected at least 55 times during the trial period by driverless cars stopping in the way. The city’s commissioners still voted to approve the companies rolling out their services through the city. What do you think of driverless cars? How could they be helpful or harmful in a busy city like San Francisco? What about in a more rural area? Do you think they would be better or worse than a regular taxi cab, ride-share service, or public transportation like a bus or train? Write down your thoughts.

4. A BIG GROUP PROJECT

A group called the Earth BioGenome Project, or EBP, is trying to sequence the DNA of every plant, animal, and fungus on the planet before it’s too late—meaning before species go extinct. To do it, researchers are constantly searching oceans, deserts, rain forests, and other landscapes to find examples of every species that they can. They hope that by 2029, they will have one sequence from all 180,000 genuses—well on their way to the 1.8 million species we’ve discovered on Earth so far. The amount of data will be equivalent to at least 200 million DVDs. It’ll all be used to create a genetic “tree of life” and could help with everything from crops to medical research. How could understanding the DNA that makes up other living things help us understand things about humans better? Write down what you think and share your answers with your classmates.

5. SAVE THE RAINFOREST

Leaders of eight countries in South America have agreed to help stop deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon is home to many unique species and also helps fight global warming, as the vast amount of trees pull carbon dioxide from the air. At least 17 percent of the rainforest has been lost in the last 50 years from people cutting down trees to make room for industrial growth. If more of the rain forest is lost, it will no longer be large enough to help reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and could lead to species of plants and animals not found anywhere else to go extinct. Read about some the different species that live in the Amazon rainforest. Thinking about the previous story about the Earth BioGenome Project, why would it be bad for the planet if species that only live in the Amazon go extinct because their habitat is destroyed? Write a paragraph about your answer.