1. Wild Ocean Adventure
In a popular nursery rhyme, children learn that if you “row, row, row your boat / gently down the stream / merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily / life is but a dream.” It’s unlikely an adventurer from the European nation of Ireland thought much about that old familiar rhyme when trying to row alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Damian Browne’s journey was neither merry nor dreamlike, and it took 112 rough days to cover 3,000 miles from New York City to Galway, Ireland. In between, Browne battled towering waves, high winds and near-tragedy when a storm in the middle of the night tipped over his 20-foot custom rowing boat three times. And did we mention the 42-year-old Browne can’t swim? “That was scary,” he told the Washington Post newspaper. “Those hours were the longest of my life.” On October 4 he rowed into Galway Bay in Ireland, becoming the first person to row from New York to Galway without backup. He received a hero’s welcome. People often challenge themselves to do difficult or amazing things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what this person has done and what were the biggest challenges or obstacles to the achievement.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Changing Colors
In many parts of the country, one of the most spectacular sights in the fall season is the change in color of the leaves on trees. As the weather cools and the days grow shorter, leaves turn from deep green to brilliant shades of orange, yellow and red. So what causes leaves to turn colors? Cooler days and longer nights play key parts. But so does a substance called chlorophyll (KLORE-o-fill). In the summer months chlorophyll produces food for broad-leafed trees by using sunlight, water and the gas carbon dioxide to create sugars and starch that help trees grow. It also gives tree leaves their green color. In the fall, as days grow shorter, the chlorophyll stops working and eventually breaks down, revealing the yellow and orange colors it had hidden from view during the summer months. Writers often look for colorful adjectives to describe fall leaves. Use the newspaper and Internet to look for adjectives you could use to describe such leaves. Write the letters of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper. Then see how many adjectives you can find in the newspaper or online that start with these letters and would describe fall leaves. Finish by writing a “Fall Color” poem using these adjectives. Share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
3. Sprinting Robot
With advances in technology, robots are becoming stronger, faster and more lifelike every year. One of the latest examples is Cassie, a two-footed robot that has been trained with artificial intelligence to run races. In 2021, Cassie successfully completed a 5K race in about 53 minutes, staying upright on her two feet the whole time. This year, Cassie set a new world robot record for running a 100-meter race. Her time was 24.73 seconds — almost triple Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58 seconds, the Washington Post reported. But researchers at Oregon State University were thrilled at how well Cassie performed and kept her balance. “This is the first big step to humanoid robots doing real work in the real world,” said a researcher who helped train and program Cassie. Robots are being used for more and more things in business, manufacturing, science and the military. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a robot being used in one of these fields. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor describing the benefits of using robots for some tasks.
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.
4. Elephant Ancestors
Elephants are the world’s largest land animal, and they have been around for a long time. In fact, researchers in the South American nation of Chile recently unearthed the fossil remains of an extinct relative of today’s elephants that may have lived 12,000 years ago! The remains were found near a lake in southern Chile and showed that some ancestors of modern elephants were almost as large as ones living today. Researchers estimate the ancient elephant weighed 8,000 pounds or more and was nearly 10 feet tall at the shoulder. The largest modern elephant — the African bush elephant — can grow 10 to 13 feet tall and weigh as much as 13,000 pounds. Researchers believe the Chile elephants may have been killed by human hunters working in groups. Scientists and fossil hunters are constantly learning more about ancestors of modern animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something scientists have learned about the ancestors of a modern species. Use what you read to prepare an oral report telling what scientists have learned about this ancestor, how they learned it and why it is important. Use photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Special Pet Service
For pet owners, dogs are loving and loyal companions for years and years. But when adults get older and have to move to assisted living or nursing homes, they often can’t take their dogs with them. In the state of California, an unusual rescue service has been set up to give such senior adults peace of mind about what will become of their pets. The service is called Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, and for 13 years it has been providing homes for dogs whose elderly owners could no longer care for them. It also finds homes for older dogs in animal shelter to provide caring families for them. The rescue service has found homes for more than 3,000 dogs and has helped more than 2,000 pets stay at home with their owners, the Washington Post reported. “We want to give dogs — and their owners — dignity in their older years,” said co-founder Carie Broecker. “Once a dog comes to us, we oversee them for the rest of their lives.” People often come up with unusual ways to help animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing this. Use what you read to create a story board in the style of a comic book to show how people helped the animal. Give the people and the animal names that fit their roles or situations.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.