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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 21, 2023

1. RETURN READY

A recent article from the New Yorker explores the complex economy of returns from online orders. While there are plenty of returns to brick-and-mortar stores, the age of Internet shopping has changed the game; for some companies, returns average 40 percent of their sales. The retail value of what is returned in the US every year is close to a trillion dollars. However, those returned items rarely go back to the retailer to go back into their inventory and sold at full price. Entire companies have been created for return management, sorting, repairing, and reselling items to new customers or other resellers. Click here to read more of this story from the New Yorker. Think about how this story explores a part of life that we all have experience with but don’t give much thought to. Write down some other ideas of what parts of life you could explore in an article and how you would approach it.

2. ON THE NOSE

Bradley Cooper was recently criticized after a trailer for his new movie, “Maestro,” was released by Netflix. Cooper co-wrote, produced, directed and stars in the film, which portrays a biographical romance about composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, a co-creator of the famous musical “West Side Story.” The criticism focused on a specific element of Cooper’s portrayal: the prosthetic nose he wears in his role as Bernstein. An antisemitism organization spoke out on X, formerly known as Twitter, accusing Cooper of not only playing a Jewish legend as a non-Jew, but also wearing an exaggerated “Jew nose.” Bernstein’s children rushed to Cooper’s defense, saying he approached the film with respect and love for their father and that they were “perfectly fine” with the choice to use makeup to play up his resemblance to Bernstein. Read more about this story in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article that explains both sides of this story and the arguments both have made.

3. TRANSPLANT TRIAL

In a huge step for medical innovations, a pig kidney transplanted into a human body worked for more than a month. The kidney was put into a brain-dead patient whose body was donated for research, and scientists are continuing to monitor how the animal organ functions. The experiment is a step forward to helping save human lives with animal organs as more than 100,000 ill people await transplants in the US. The surgeon who transplanted the kidney, Dr. Robert Montgomery, was the recipient of a heart transplant himself. Write a short article summarizing the facts of this story and how it could impact patients and the future of medicine.

4. ADHD NEEDS

An ongoing shortage of medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has some kids struggling in the classroom and in social situations as a new school year starts. For almost a year, Adderall has been difficult for pharmacies to keep in stock, causing parents to either switch their kids to other medications that may be less effective for them, or skip doses entirely to ration pills for when they’re most needed. Other ADHD medications are now affected, including some versions of Concerta and Vyvanse, and the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration have issued a rare joint public letter asking manufacturers to increase production of the medications. If you were going to write an article on this topic, how would you tell it? Write an outline, including who you would interview, what questions you would ask them, and what angle you would take to approach sharing this topic with a wide audience.

5. PINK FLOYD PIECE

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, used a Pink Floyd song in research on patients with epilepsy. Researchers placed electrodes on the brain surface of epilepsy patients and had them listen to three minutes of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)”. Artificial intelligence technology then reconstructed the song by reading the patients’ brain waves. While the new version sounded more distorted and hazy than the original, it was still unmistakably the same song. This research could eventually be used to help people who aren’t able to communicate with spoken words. Think about how stories come from scientific articles. How would you approach writing articles based on scientific research? Write an outline of the process, from reading the scientific piece to your finished article.