1. Pay Up for Recycling!
Everyone who wants to keep the Earth clean knows the “Three Rs” of recycling: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This summer the state of Maine has added a fourth R to the mix: Repay. Maine has become the first state in the nation to require companies that create consumer packaging to repay the costs of recycling it, and also to pay costs for disposing of non-recyclable materials. Under a law signed by Governor Janet Mills, the state will charge large packaging producers for collecting and recycling cardboard boxes, plastic containers and other packaging materials and use the income to support recycling efforts in local communities where taxpayers have paid for recycling in the past. Across the country, 10 states including New York and California have considered similar legislation this year. Recycling is a way to keep communities clean and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about successful recycling efforts. Use what you read to write an editorial encouraging families and businesses to recycle, and explain how this will help the community in big and small ways. Share with family and friends and discuss.
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. Hello, Venus
Similar in size to Earth, the planet Venus is often referred to as “Earth’s Twin,” or its “Sister Planet.” For that reason, scientists are always looking to learn more about Venus, which is the planet next in from Earth in the solar system. This month, scientists got a double look at Venus with a pair of “unprecedented” flybys by America’s NASA space agency and agencies run by other countries. First the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which is a partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency, passed within 5,000 miles of Venus. Next the BepiColombo craft launched by the European agency and Japan’s JAXA space agency flew even closer, passing within 350 miles of Earth’s next-door neighbor. Neither mission is sticking around Venus, which is often referred to as the “Evening Star” because it is one of the first natural objects visible in Earth’s night sky and the second brightest after the Moon. The Solar Orbiter is headed toward the sun to take the first images ever of the sun’s poles. The BepiColombo mission is headed to the planet Mercury to take pictures of the planet orbiting closest to the sun. Space missions often seek to learn more about different planets in the solar system. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a mission that is providing new information about a planet. Use what you read to create a poster showing what the mission has learned about the planet — and how.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Sneaky Birds
During nesting season, birds are always on the lookout for materials with which to build. But some birds go even further: they “steal” materials rather than rely on things they find on the ground. And they steal from living animals and even humans! A new study has found that certain species of birds will land on foxes, dogs, raccoons and even humans and pull out hair for their nests. They usually do this when the animals are sleeping and are gone before the animals wake up. Then they may come back after the animals fall back to sleep and steal more hair, the New York Times newspaper reported. The birds that do this come from a family that includes chickadees and titmice, scientists said, and they live in cooler climates. They use the hair to line their nests and provide insulation against the cold. “They’re very bold, exploratory and smart,” one scientist said. Wild animals and birds often do odd or unusual things that surprise scientists. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildflife species that does something unusual or odd. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend explaining why the species does the unusual thing. For added fun, pretend you are the species and write your letter from the point of view of the animal or bird.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
4. Sunken Ship
Underwater discoveries excite scientists who study the past because the water of oceans, lakes and seas can preserve materials better than if they had been on dry land. In the north African nation of Egypt, an ancient military vessel has been discovered under water in the coastal city of Alexandria, and it has shed new light on how Egyptians defended themselves on the seas or turned back intruders. The flat-bottomed vessel was more than 80 feet long and powered by sails and oars pulled by soldiers or slaves on board, scientists said. It was built more than 2,200 years ago and based at the city of Thônis-Heracleion. The city was once Egypt’s largest port on the Mediterranean Sea but sank after a series of earthquakes and tidal waves struck the area. The discovery of an ancient military vessel is giving scientists new information about military and seafaring life in Egypt long ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another discovery that is giving scientists new information about ancient life or activities. Use what you read to write an outline for a short TV news report on the discovery. What would you tell viewers first? What would you tell them next? What image or images would you show first? Explain the choices you made in your report for family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Kitty to the Rescue
Animals help people in many unusual ways. In the state of Pennsylvania, a four-year-old cat named Truffles is helping kids overcome worries about wearing glasses — by wearing them herself! Truffles is an “assistant” to optician Danielle Crulle at her practice called A Child’s Eyes in the borough of Mechanicsburg. And she plays a very special role. When kids are upset at having to wear glasses or even an eye patch, Truffles comes into the office and puts them at ease by modeling one of the 20 pairs of glasses that Crulle has fitted her for, CNN News reports. “She is literally magical with little kids,” Crull told CNN. “ … Over and over … a little one is crying and she comes out and I put glasses on her, and they immediately stop crying and laugh and put their own glasses on.” All over the world, animals help people in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story from another part of the world that shows animals helping people in some way. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how the animal helps and how important it is to people in that part of the world. Are animals more important helping people in that part of the world than in the United States?
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.