For Grades 5-8 , week of May 10, 2021

1. SpaceX Milestone

The SpaceX company continues to make history. It already was the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft, the first to reuse an orbital rocket, and the first to send astronauts into orbit for docking with the International Space Station. Now SpaceX has become the first private company to transport an astronaut crew to and from the Space Station — and to splash down in a night ocean landing. Last week the company successfully returned a crew of three Americans and one Japanese astronaut to Earth with a landing in the ocean off the coast of Panama City, Florida. Inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft named Resilience were astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of America’s NASA space agency and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with the Japanese space agency. Hopkins, a colonel in the United States Space Force, was the commander for the flight. The night landing was the first for NASA since 1968, when the first U.S. astronauts to orbit the moon returned to Earth. SpaceX has become the leading private company traveling and operating in space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about SpaceX’s achievements and its plans for the future. Use what you read to create a multi-media or PowerPoint presentation highlighting SpaceX’s most significant achievements and plans.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Ka-Ching!

Many people dream of finding hidden treasure, but few actually do. Especially if it’s located in their own home! A family in the state of Massachusetts did just that recently after hiring a professional treasure hunter to help them out. For decades the family had heard rumors that a former family member had hidden money in their house, but even with the help of builders and carpenters they hadn’t found anything. Then they hired professional treasure hunter Keith Wille of Groton, Connecticut and their luck changed. Wille came equipped with high-tech tools, and his metal detector got a signal there was something under the floorboards in the attic, UPI News reported. Then he used an endoscopic camera to snake through gaps in the boards to find what looked like a metal box. When family members pulled up the boards, they discovered it was indeed a box — and inside was $46,000 in cash! The money was fresh from the bank, still wrapped in original bank straps dating to the 1950s. The family, whom Wille did not identify, has not decided what to do with the cash windfall. What would you do if you came into a large sum of money? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and ads for ways you could use the money. Pick one for your personal enjoyment and one that would help others or the community. Write a letter to a family member, telling how you would use the money, and why.

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.

3. All Veggie Menu

During the coronavirus epidemic, restaurants around the world have had to make many changes to the way they do business. In New York City, a top-rated restaurant is making what may be the biggest change of all. When the restaurant Eleven Madison Park reopens for indoor dining after a year of being closed, it will have no meat, fish or other animal products on the menu. The move is a dramatic step, because dishes with duck, fish, seafood and beef have made Eleven Madison one of the most highy-rated restaurants in the world. Now Chef Daniel Humm says he wants a more “sustainable” menu, focusing on vegetables and fruits. Meats, especially beef, are drawing criticism from environmentalists because raising cattle and livestock creates a large “carbon footprint” with greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many businesses are looking to become more sustainable and to reduce their impact on the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business that is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining what the business seeks to do and what are the greatest challenges it faces for success.

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. Rafting for Freedom

Freedom can be a powerful motivation for people. In the Asian nation of China, it motivated a man to buy a tiny dinghy boat, equip it with an outboard motor and travel 100 miles through dangerous waters to escape China’s mainland and reach the island of Taiwan. The 36-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Zhou, left from the port city of Quanzhou at 10 a.m. on a Friday and arrived in the Taiwan port of Taichung 10 hours later. He carried no possessions but had packed his 9-by-5-foot rubber raft with 23 gallons of gasoline for his motor. He was taken into custody by Taiwanese officials and questioned about his journey across the heavily patrolled Taiwan Strait. Asked why he took the risk, he told authorities “Taiwan has more freedom and equality” and described life in China as “all kinds of bad.” Control of democratically governed Taiwan has long been disputed, with the Taiwanese claiming independence and China claiming the island should be under the jurisdiction of the communist Chinese government. In the United States people often take our freedoms for granted, but elsewhere in the world people do extraordinary things to achieve them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing something extraordinary to achieve greater freedom. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing how this person’s actions could inspire Americans and help people better appreciate the freedoms they have.

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.

5. Looted Art Return

During the colonial era of European history, nations seeking to establish colonies in other parts of the world often looted silver, gold and works of native art to take back to museums in their home countries. One of the most famous examples occurred in what is now the African nation Nigeria in the late 1890s. British forces raided the Kingdom of Benin there and made off with artworks and statues made of bronze, brass and ivory. Those works known as the Benin bronzes were distributed to museums and governments of other nations, with many landing in the European nation of Germany. Now, in a breakthrough for restoring looted art, Germany has agreed to make “substantive returns” of Benin bronzes held by German museums, CNN News reports. Return of the works could begin as soon as next year after a “milestone” declaration issued jointly by Germany’s Ministry of Culture, state ministers and museum directors. Returning artworks and valuables taken from other countries in earlier times is an ongoing issue for museums and governments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about cases that are getting attention. Use what you read to write a proposal for one or more museum outlining how best to address the issue.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.