1. Space Setback
The private Space X company has gotten worldwide attention for its efforts to make space travel easier and more affordable. In March it made headlines by sending a space capsule called Crew Dragon to the International Space Station and successfully docking with it. The trip was seen as a test run for transporting astronauts to the space station for America’s NASA space agency. Now, however, Space X’s plans have had a setback. In a follow-up test on the ground, the Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed in a fiery explosion, Space X has confirmed. No astronauts were on board, but the accident sets back plans by Space X and NASA to use the capsule to transport astronauts later this year. The company said other Crew Dragon craft are under construction but acknowledged that the explosion was “certainly not great news” for future flights. Private companies are now getting involved in space travel, and new nations are developing space programs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about new companies or nations getting involved in space exploration. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper examining these new approaches and how they will affect exploration in the future.
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.
2. Treasures in the Rocks
Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings that shed light on the lives and beliefs of people who lived thousands of years ago. In the Asian nation of India, two amateur archaeologists have uncovered a treasure trove of carvings that is being called one of the richest in the world. The carvings are unusual because they are not drawn on walls or standing rocks, but cut into the stone of flat hilltops along what is called the Konkan coastal plateau on India’s western coast. Experts say the carvings are 10,000 to 40,000 years old and date back to the late Stone Age. Figures include humans and a variety of large and small animals ranging from deer, fish and turtles to tigers and elephants, according to the New York Times newspaper. Some images are abstract designs believed to have symbolic importance. More than 1,200 carvings have been discovered since 2012. Petroglyphs and fossil discoveries help scientists get a better understanding of past life on Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery of this kind. Use what you read to write a science column for the newspaper, explaining the significance of the discovery.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. Ban the Nips?
Tiny bottles of liquor are cheap and popular with people who don’t want a lot to drink. They are also an annoying source of litter pollution in some communities. Called “nips” or “airplane bottles,” they get discarded all over and cause litter and pollution problems. In the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city councilor has had her fill of nip litter in her community. Councilor Pat Davis wants to ban them from the city. Albuquerque has tried to ban the mini-bottles before but convenience stores sued and won by arguing cities can't pass laws that override the state’s liquor laws. To get around that, Davis wants to change the state laws to give cities local control on the issue. Communities try many approaches to control or reduce pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different approaches. Then use what you read to design a website showcasing different approaches. Design the home page to showcase different efforts. Pick an image to illustrate each. Then write headlines and text blocks to explain each category.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
4. Walk in the Clouds
When people are really happy, it’s often said they are “walking on air.” In the state of Tennessee, they will literally be able to do that when the Gatlinburg SkyBridge opens to the public on May 17. The SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the United States and offers spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The bridge is 680 feet long and 150 feet high and features glass floors that make visitors feel they are walking midair. The new suspension bridge is located next to the Gatlinburg SkyLift, which takes visitors from downtown Gatlinburg to the top of Crockett Mountain. The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is expected to be a popular tourist attraction for families on vacation this summer. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos and stories of other attractions families might want to visit this summer. Pretend you are a travel writer for the newspaper and write a column highlighting two or three places you would like to visit with your family. Use evidence from your reading to support your choices.
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. A Tie That Binds
Patriotism can take many forms, and for a man in the state of Virginia it came in the shape of a necktie. Marc Johnson, a former case officer for the CIA intelligence agency, was trying to sell a tie with an American flag theme on the eBay Internet site not long ago, and was pleased when a man from Ohio wanted to buy it. But then Johnson learned why Jaques Campher wanted the tie. Campher, a native of South Africa, was about to become an American citizen and said he wanted to wear the red, white and blue tie to his swearing in ceremony. When Johnson read the message, he thought “I can’t charge him for this,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. He sent him the tie for free “with my congratulations on becoming a citizen.” Campher was touched by the gesture. “He got weepy when he told me about it,” his wife Lindsay Krasinsky said. People express patriotism or love of country in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the ways. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling how such expressions of patriotism can inspire others. Share with the class and discuss what patriotism means to you.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.