1. Wind Chills
Across the United States, people who live in northern areas hear a lot about wind chills during the winter months. Wind chills are a measurement of the combined effect of wind and low temperatures on the human body. Wind makes people feel colder at low temperatures because it sweeps away the warmth the body creates. This winter has been a record-setter for wind chills in the United States. A blast of extremely cold air from the Arctic region of the Earth’s North Pole sent wind chill readings plunging to incredibly low levels this month. In state after state, wind chills plummeted to 40, 50 or even 60 degrees below zero, threatening the lives of people and animals. Mount Washington in the eastern state of New Hampshire reported the lowest wind chill ever recorded in the United States when fierce winds hit 110 miles per hour and the regular temperature dropped to 46 degrees below zero. The wind chill created by that combination was a mind-boggling 109 degrees below zero. With record wind chills and snowstorms, there has been a lot of extreme weather in the United States this winter. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one severe weather event. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper or Internet offering tips on how to stay safe in this kind of weather.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. What a Student!
Parents often tell their children that they can do great things if they study hard in school. A student in the state of Pennsylvania has already done something great for his age, and he is getting national attention for it. David Balogun has graduated from high school — and he’s just 9 years old! David, who lives in a suburb outside the city of Philadelphia, earned his high school diploma studying online from home through the Reach Cyber Charter School and will next enroll for a semester at a local community college. After that, he will pick a four-year college to further his studies. He loves science and computer programming and told WGAL-TV that he “want[s] to be an astrophysicist and … study black holes and supernovas” in outer space. Though he’s an incredible student who loves learning, David also has interests more typical for his age. He plays sports, is working on a black belt in martial arts and even plays the piano. Young students often make news by doing unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a young student doing something unusual. Use what you read to write a letter to the student telling him or her what impressed you most about the achievement — and how it could inspire others to try unusual things.
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.
3. Power to the Peeps
It’s not likely many Americans would recognize the name of Bob Born if asked who he is. But millions of Americans know his company’s most famous creation, especially around Valentine’s Day and Easter. Born ran the candy company that makes marshmallow Peeps and invented a way to produce and deliver them faster than ever before. As a result, Peeps grew from a small candy item for Born’s company to a popular sensation in the candy world, the New York Times reported. His mass-production inventions made it possible to produce more than 5.5-million Peeps a day, or close to 2-billion a year. In the process Peeps became rock stars in the candy world, featured in contests, experiments and yearly “diorama” art displays and competitions. Born, who died this month at the age of 98, never expected his Peeps to become celebrities, but he enjoyed the fun and attention. He often showed up to judge diorama contests just to see the creativity. “I get a big charge out of seeing them every year,” he said in a 2015 interview. Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday this week, and many people will be buying candy to give to friends and loved ones. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads for different kinds of candy being offered for Valentine’s Day. Make a list of candies you would like to give to family, friends or loved ones. Don’t worry about price, but write a sentence for each, telling who you would give it to and why.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
4. She Ran and Ran and Ran
In marathon races, runners have to have great strength and staying power to cover the 26.2 miles of the competition. Imagine how much strength and staying power a runner would have to have to run 150 marathons — in 150 days! That is what a woman from the South Pacific nation of Australia did in the last five months. And now she is hoping her feat will be recognized as a new Guinness World Record. Erchana Murray-Bartlett began her journey on August 20 and crossed the finish line of her final race on January 16. In between, the 32-year-old runner covered 3,900 miles and overcame the challenges of scorching heat, fierce storms and all kinds of natural environments, CNN News reported. She ran on dirt roads and beaches, up steep hills and down in low valleys, and through hot deserts and cool forests. The distance she covered is greater than the distance from the East Coast to the West Coast in the United States. While making her run, Murray-Bartlett raised awareness and money for threatened or endangered wildlife in Australia, collecting pledges worth more than $120,000. People often challenge themselves to perform amazing feats in sports or other activities. 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 paragraph telling what skills or personal qualities the person needed to perform the feat — and which ones you have as well.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. That’s Nutty
Every fall, many wild birds and animals store food to get them through the winter months. In a town in the state of California, a local woodpecker family must have thought it was going to be a really tough winter this year, because they stored a LOT of food. They put aside more than 700 pounds of acorns inside the walls of a home in Glen Ellen north of the city of San Francisco. The nutty treasure was discovered when the homeowner noticed holes were being pecked in the outside walls of the house, and called in a pest control company. The company, called Nick’s Extreme Pest Control, found an extreme problem when it investigated. Inside the walls under the holes, they discovered the woodpeckers had filled the spaces with acorns — hundreds and hundreds of acorns, enough to fill eight trash bags. “Never came across anything like it” in 20 years of business, the company said on Facebook. The pest team did not say what kind of woodpecker filled the walls of the home, but it likely was an Acorn Woodpecker, a local species that (as its name suggests) likes to eat acorns. Wild animals and birds often do things that affect humans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one case of this happening. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing what the wild animal did and whether it had a good or bad effect on people.
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.