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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 13, 2023

1. THIRD ROUND

The third Republican debate took place last week, with former President Donald Trump once again absent from the stage. The five candidates in attendance were Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott. Among the topics discussed were aid to Ukraine, diplomatic approaches to China, and other foreign policy topics. Among the more heated moments between the candidates, Ramaswamy criticized Haley for her daughter’s use of TikTok during a discussion of the app when answering a question about how he would ban the app for national security reasons since he uses it to campaign. In response, Haley told him to leave her daughter out of it and said, “You’re just scum.” Using your newspaper or online, read about the Republican candidates who are still in the running. Then, briefly summarize each of their positions on key issues.

2. HEADQUARTERS HEADACHE

For years, there have been lengthy discussions and competing proposals about where to move the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s headquarters, as its current building in Washington, DC, is outdated and crumbling. Progress seemed to be made this week when the Biden administration announced the new headquarters would be located in Greenbelt, Maryland, but FBI director Christopher Wray was quick to criticize the decision. He said the location selection process was flawed and that it was influenced by a federal official with a conflict of interest. His statement was directed at the General Services Administration, which handles the management and development of federal buildings and other properties. The alternative to the Maryland site was Springfield, Virginia, which Wray says scored higher on a checklist of selection criteria but ultimately wasn’t chosen. The decision still requires congressional approval before it’s final. Consider why there would be competing interests between Virginia and Maryland as the site of the new headquarters, from FBI employees to politicians from each state. Write a paragraph summarizing what interests different groups would have in choosing which state the headquarters is in and how that might affect a final decision.

3. ICE WOES

Greenland, an island known for its snow and glaciers, is seeing dramatic effects from climate change. Two recently published studies found that its glaciers and floating ice shelves are melting more rapidly and becoming destabilized as a result. Compared to the late 1900s, the island’s peripheral glaciers shrunk twice as fast between 2000 and 2021. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen twice as fast as the global average temperature since 2000 and the resulting ice melting into the ocean is one of the biggest contributors to sea level rise across the world. Another study pointed out that the ice shelves floating off Greenland’s northern coast, which protect the inland glaciers, have shrunk more than 35 percent since the late 1970s. Three ice shelves have collapsed within the past twenty years. How could what’s happening in Greenland, a remote island in the Arctic, affect the rest of the world? Write a brief article that summarizes what you’ve learned here and explains why people in the rest of the world should care what happens to the ice in Greenland.

4. WOMEN AND THE WAR EFFORT

As the war in Ukraine approaches the two-year mark, one of the most crucial parts of the war effort is refilling the ranks of military personnel. With a limited population to draw from, efforts have begun to focus on reaching women to enlist. Some groups have begun offering all-female training on handling weapons and other urban combat techniques. The Ukrainian military currently has about 43,000 women enlisted, and the country removed restrictions on some of the roles women could serve in following Russia’s invasion. The country’s military has also begun providing gender-specific uniforms and body armor. Women aren’t yet part of the draft in Ukraine, but as of October 1, women with medical training are now required to register at recruitment offices and have received draft cards. Write an article explaining why women are an important part of the war effort in Ukraine and what steps the country has taken to recruit women.

5. DEPRESSION TREATMENT

The first pill specifically designed to treat postpartum depression was approved by the FDA this summer, but the price for it that manufacturer Sage Therapeutics recently released may make it inaccessible for many Americans. A two-week course of the drug will be $15,900. Because the medication, Zurzuvae, wasn’t approved to treat major depressive disorder, which is much more common, the price is high because it’s targeting a much smaller patient population. Around 500,000 are estimated to be affected by postpartum depression each year in the United States and the number of diagnoses has steadily increased over the last decade. Research postpartum depression and the new drug, Zurzuvae, online. Then, write an opinion piece on how you think the drug should be priced and why.