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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 18, 2023

1. REPELLANT MOSQUITOS

Around 400 million people are infected with dengue (pronounced deng-gay) fever every year around the world. The disease is spread by mosquitos and has symptoms similar to a very bad case of the flu. Scientists in the Central American country Honduras have come up with a unique way to fight it: mosquitos that have been bred with a specific bacteria that keeps them from transmitting dengue fever. When the mosquitos reproduce, they’ll pass the bacteria to their offspring, meaning fewer outbreaks in the future. Millions of the special mosquitos have been released in the capital of Honduras so far. Write a paragraph that summarizes how the dengue fever is spread and how the special mosquitos can help.

2. A SERIOUS SWIM

A 53-year-old man swam the entire length of the Hudson River, which reaches from the Adirondack Mountains to New York City. Lewis Pugh spend a month swimming the 315 miles from the river’s source to its end to bring attention to the need for clean waterways. “Rivers are the arteries of our planet,” he said. A support team followed him in a kayak and boat to make sure he was safe. At parts of the river that were too shallow to swim or were not swimmable because of waterfalls or dams, he ran along the banks. How can an achievement like Pugh’s swim draw attention to bigger things like environmental issues? Write a paragraph about how feats like his can help make change in the world.

3. FRENCH BAN

At schools in France, women can no longer wear abayas, loose-fitting long robes that many Muslim women choose to wear as part of their religion. The new rule, created by France’s new education minister, has created a fierce debate in the country. Many have pointed out that other long garments, like kimonos, aren’t banned, so the rule unnecessarily targets Muslim students. The government says that “you should not be able to distinguish or identify a student’s religion by looking at them” because education shouldn’t be about religious or ethnic identity. Write a paragraph about what you think: is it unfair to target an item of clothing only worn by people of one religion? Does knowing a classmate’s religion have a positive, negative, or no effect on another student? Why?

4. HURRICANE HEADED NORTH

While Canada is far from a tropical climate, parts of the country were under a tropical storm warning last week, along with the New England region of the United States. Meteorologists, or weather scientists, were expecting the storm to weaken as it approached Canada, but still have hurricane-force winds when the center of the storm reached the coastline. Tropical storms and hurricanes get their energy from warm water and send that energy upward through the center, or eye, of the storm. Hurricane Lee became “post-tropical” when it moved over colder water in the northern Atlantic and became more like a typical storm that we see anywhere in the country—those get their energy from warmer and cooler air meeting, creating warm and cold fronts. Draw or print out a map of North America. Then, draw the path of Hurricane Lee and color in what parts of the continent were affected by the storm.

5. STRUGGLES OF A GENERATON

According to a new study that talked to 3,000 people, only 47 percent of Gen Z Americans describe themselves as “thriving” in their lives, which is the lowest across all generations in the US today and lower than millennials reported when they were the same age. (Gen Z are people aged 12 to 26 currently.) The study also shows that Gen Z people are more likely to report feeling negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Ten years ago, 52 percent of millennials age 18 to 26 said their mental health was “excellent,” but currently, only 15 percent of Gen Z people in the same age range said the same. What are some reasons you can think of why Gen Z might be a generation that’s unhappier or struggling more than other generations? How does the world today compare to the world 10 years ago, from what you’ve learned about or heard from adults in your life? Write down your answers and share with your classmates.

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