1. What a Dino Exhibit
Dinosaur exhibits are hugely popular with families and science fans, but in Washington, DC people have had to do without one of the nation’s most famous for five years. Now the fossil hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has re-opened after a big upgrade and renovation. It has become an instant hit. The renovation, which cost $110-million, features a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton called “The Nation’s T. rex.” The T. rex, which came from the state of Montana, is one of the largest and most complete skeletons ever found. But that is not all there is to see. The display also has interactive exhibits and touch screens, lots of movement and lots of fun. In one spot, a flying dinosaur flaps its wings; in another two dinos fight each other. “We’ve been waiting … years for this,” one fan told the Washington Post newspaper on the opening weekend. Museums give people a fun way to learn about subjects ranging from dinosaurs to art to technology. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story or listing about an exhibit at a museum in your city or state. Use what you read to write a personal letter to a friend telling how you could have fun visiting the exhibit, and what you could learn.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Plastic Pollution
The nation of Canada is the United States’ neighbor to the north, and the two countries share many of the same problems. One of them is plastic pollution, and this month Canada announced it is going to do something about it. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government plans to ban single-use plastics as early as the year 2021. The plan would ban such items as plastic bags, straws, plates, stir sticks, forks, knives, spoons and packing containers. Such items often end up littering the environment or polluting oceans and beaches. Canada produces more than 3-million tons of plastic waste a year, and less than 10 percent of all this plastic is recycled, according to government statistics. Plastic pollution is a problem facing many nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about how one nation or community is dealing with the problem. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your view on the effort to deal with the problem. Offer suggestions for other ways to deal with the problem, if you like.
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. Honoring a Legend
Sports legend Muhammad Ali is one the greatest boxers in history and one of the most famous people ever to come from the city of Louisville, Kentucky. This year, Louisville has honored Ali twice, first by renaming the city’s airport for him, and now by redesigning the airport’s logo and symbol. The new logo features the form of Ali with his arms raised in triumph against a background shaped like a butterfly. As a boxing champion, he was famous for saying his speed and power made it possible for him to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The logo change was announced during Louisville’s yearly “Ali Week,” which celebrates the African American boxer through art, music, movies and special events. Famous people often are honored by communities for their achievements. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person you think deserves to be honored. Use what you read to write a proclamation or paragraph stating why this person should be recognized.
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. Bug Storm
Weather forecasters use radar to detect what kind of conditions are occurring in the atmosphere. Radar equipment sends out bursts of energy as radio waves, and when they bounce off rain, hail or snow, they give forecasters a picture of what is happening. In Southern California this month, weather experts got a surprise when their radar detected what looked like a storm on an otherwise clear day. When they checked it out, they discovered their radar wasn’t seeing raindrops, but ladybugs! The bugs were gathered in a huge group called a “bloom” and it was so big it showed up on the radar monitors. The ladybugs were a mile off the ground, and scientists believe they may be a species that migrates to higher mountain areas at this time of year. Wildlife often is in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species making news. Use what you read to create a TV news report telling about the species. Write text for your report and list images you would show, and why.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Learn from the Setting
The Grand Canyon National Park was in the news this month when it was reported there are plans to allow mining near the Arizona landmark. The setting of a news story — where it takes place — often can be important to understanding what is going on. Scan the newspaper or Internet for a news story that interests you. On a sheet of paper, write out where the story takes place. Then write three ways the place affects what goes on in the story — or how it could affect future events. Share ideas as a class. Finish by discussing books you have read in which the setting is important to what happens.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.