1. A.I. in Africa
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is one of the hottest fields in technology, and the Google company is seeking to be a leader developing new ways to use it. It has opened research centers all over the world and has just added its first center in Africa. The African center is located in Ghana's capital city of Accra and will develop uses of A.I. to solve problems facing African nations. In addition to providing the technology for “virtual assistants” on phones and home devices, A.I. can be used to help people translate and understand different languages and to solve problems in agriculture, health and education, Google leaders said. In addition to Ghana, Google has research centers in the nations of France, Japan, Switzerland and the United States. Companies like Google are working hard to develop new ways to use Artificial Intelligence technology. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about new ways A.I. is being used in products, programs or services. Use what you read to write a business or consumer column assessing these advances and which may be the most important.
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.
2. Threat to Glaciers
One of the most closely watched effects of climate change has been the melting of ice in the world’s glaciers. According to new research, glaciers lost more than 9,000-billion tons of ice between 1961 and 2016, an amount that would cover the entire United States with a sheet of ice four feet thick. On top of that, ice loss continues at a rapid pace, with up to 335-billion tons of ice lost each year, the researchers found. At that rate, most glaciers in Central Europe, Western Canada and the United States would vanish in the second half of this century, CNN News reported. The melting of glaciers can contribute to a rise in sea levels and affect water supplies for drinking water and agriculture, the researchers said. The melting of ice in glaciers and the Earth’s polar ice caps is a top concern for climate scientists. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the ice melting in these areas. Use what you read to write a short editorial calling attention to how melting ice can affect habitats and life on Earth.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Unusual Eagle Family
Bald eagles are the symbol for America, so it’s always big news when they choose to nest in an area or community. In the state of Illinois this spring, an eagle’s nest is getting even more attention than usual. In a rare turn of events, three adult eagles are raising eaglets together in one nest. Usually eagles nest in pairs, one male and one female. In this nest in the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge there are two males and one female, and they are all working together to raise three fluffy chicks. According to a refuge spokesperson, all three birds — the males Valor I and Valor II and the female Starr — “take part in nest maintenance … and raising the young.” Wild animals and birds often make news by doing unusual things or showing unusual skills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about wildlife acting this way. Think like a scientist and write a short paragraph explaining the significance of this behavior and how it adds to people’s knowledge about the species.
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. He Runs On and On
The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s most famous races for distance runners. It is run rain or shine each April, and it covers 26.2 miles in and around the city of Boston in Massachusetts. Finishing the race is a challenge for every runner, and this year one met the challenge for the 52nd straight time. Ben Beach of Bethesda, Maryland, completed the course in just over six hours to extend his Marathon record for consecutive years finishing the race. Beach, now 69, ran his first Marathon in 1968, when he was a student at Harvard University across the Charles River from Boston. He plans to be back again next year, to compete for the first time as a 70-year-old. Ben Beach’s Boston Marathon record was achieved over many years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about someone achieving success over many years. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to the skills and personal qualities needed to be successful over a long time — and how they could inspire others.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. Sleeper Recall
Getting babies to sleep is one of the great challenges to parents. So many were distressed when one of the most popular sleep cradles was recalled by its manufacturer this month. Fisher-Price recalled nearly 5 million Rock ’n Play Sleepers after reports that more than 30 babies had died over an eight-year period using the device. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the deaths occurred “after the infants rolled over while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.” The recall occurred three days after doctors in the American Academy of Pediatrics publicly called the sleepers dangerous. “This product is deadly,” the academy president said. The nation’s Consumer Product Safety Commission works to make sure products offered to the public are safe to use. It monitors a wide range of products and calls attention to issues or problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about warnings or actions of the commission. Use what you read to assess one action and why it was important.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.