For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Mar. 30, 2020

1. Trash Those Wipes

Wipe, scrub, disinfect. (Repeat). Wipe, scrub, disinfect. Cleaning surfaces that have a lot of contact with people is one of the key strategies for keeping the coronavirus from spreading. Many people are using disposable disinfecting wipes to do that, and that is causing a problem. Users are flushing them down toilets, and they are clogging the pipes of sewer systems. Even wipes that are labeled “flushable” can cause problems, sewer officials say, while others are made of materials that should never be flushed. The problem is that wipes of all kinds don’t break down as easily as toilet paper in sewage systems. And when they don’t break down, they can cause clogs and blockages. To keep systems running smoothly, experts say, throw all wipes in the trash after using them for cleaning surfaces. Disinfecting surfaces that a lot of people touch is hugely important for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about businesses or institutions that are doing this. Use what you read to create a series of newspaper, Internet or TV ads reminding people of the importance of disinfecting frequently used surfaces. Give your ads a theme and write out bullet points that each should cover. List images you would use to illustrate your ads.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Caring Customers

The closure of businesses due to the coronavirus has hit restaurant workers especially hard. In the city of Houston, Texas, however, an anonymous couple lent a big helping hand. The couple left the staff a $9,400 tip to cover salaries of workers who might otherwise be put out of a job. “Hold [this] tip to pay your guys over the next few weeks,” the couple wrote on the sales slip at Irma’s Southwest restaurant in Houston’s downtown district. The couple, who asked not to be identified, left the generous gift on a $90.12 bill — $1,900 in cash and $7,500 on a credit card, the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported. The restaurant said employees will split the tip equally, receiving about $300 each. The tip came just hours after local officials had ordered bars, nightclubs and restaurants to close for sit-down service. Irma’s said it plans to operate as a take-out service until it can resume full service. The spread of the coronavirus has led people to offer many acts of kindness or support for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people who have offered kindness to others. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing how kindness to others can help people get through the corona emergency emotionally or economically, and how that strengthens a community.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Good News on Pollution

It has been hard to find a silver lining to the dark cloud of coronavirus spreading across the country. But there is one from an environmental standpoint. Satellite images show that there is less pollution in the air as cities and communities shut down public places. Images taken over the first three weeks of March show a clear drop from the previous year in pollution from the emissions of cars, trucks, buses, power plants and other businesses, CNN News reports. The pollution is noticeably lower in the state of California, which has some of the worst air pollution in the nation. Like other states, California has implemented strict stay-at-home orders, urging people not to leave their homes except for food shopping, picking up medicines or traveling to essential jobs. Air pollution is a problem for cities across the United States and around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to reduce air pollution in cities. Then think like a pollution planner and write an analysis of what cities could learn from the drop in pollution during the corona crisis. Conclude your analysis with ideas for reducing air pollution long term based on the corona experience.

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.

4. A Beak for Bruce

The process known as “3D printing” got its start (and name) from the use of inkjet printers to make three-dimensional items layer by layer. It is widely used in medicine and technology fields, and now it has been used to give a goose a new beak. In the state of Idaho, a goose named Bruce got into a fight with a raccoon and the ‘coon bit off his upper beak. Bruce’s owner took him to a local animal rescue shelter whose founder happened to be the head of the animal science department at a nearby technical college. She realized the college ran a 4-H group called the Cache Makers, which teaches students to apply science and math concepts to solve problems. The students had just learned about 3D printing and decided to take on Bruce’s beak as a project. It took two tries, but they achieved a perfect fit. “The details on the beak — the notch, the slope, the little teeth, are wonderful,” said Susan Curtis, founder of the animal rescue operation. The use of 3D printing techniques is re-inventing the way things are manufactured. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new way 3D printing is being used. Use what you read to write a short consumer column analyzing the advantages of 3D printing.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. All the Information

With schools closed, students are being asked to learn at home with their families. One way to do that is to practice using all the information available in newspaper or Internet stories to predict what they are about. This information would include titles, headlines, text breakers, captions, illustrations or notes. These items usually are set off in different kinds of type from the main text so that you know you should read them first to get an idea of what the text is about. Practice this on your own with the newspaper or Internet. Find a story that has a photo, graph or illustration. Study those and read the headline, any sub-headlines, text breakers, captions or blowup quotes. Write down what you think the story will be about. Then read the story and write down what the story was about. How accurate was your prediction? For added fun, take turns with brothers, sisters or other family members and repeat this exercise. You’re becoming better readers!

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; evaluating content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.