1. Rain on an Ice Sheet
The area around the Earth’s North Pole is a region of ice, snow and freezing temperatures. Yet at the Summit of Greenland 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle, something extraordinary happened this month. For the first time in recorded history, it rained at a usually frozen research station on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The rain, which lasted several hours, occurred because the temperature at the site rose above the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That worries scientists, because it is another sign of how fast the Arctic is changing due to global warming and climate change. “It does write a new chapter in the book of Greenland,” one scientist told the New York Times newspaper. “This is really new.” Recent statistics show that the Arctic area around the North Pole is warming faster than any other region on Earth. Global warming is having a big effect on habitats and areas all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining the importance of the effect and what can be done to address it.
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. Healthcare Barbies
For more than 60 years, Barbie dolls have brought smiles and joy to children of all ages. Now they are encouraging girls to become doctors or healthcare workers. The Mattel toy company has created six custom-made Front Line Responder Barbies that put a spotlight on women who have careers in medicine. Leading this ground-breaking group of toys is a Barbie modeled after vaccine specialist Sarah Gilbert, who led the team that developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Other figures in the special Barbie series include the nurse who treated the first coronavirus victim in New York City, an Asian American doctor who battled anti-Asian bias connected to the virus, a psychiatry resident seeking to recruit more Black students for medical schools, a biomedical researcher working to identify the structure of viruses and the founder of Gowns for Doctors, an organization working to deliver safety equipment during the coronavirus epidemic. The Front Line Responder Barbies are designed to call attention to careers in medicine and healthcare for young girls. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman in those fields who could be a role model for girls. Use what you read to design a poster showing this woman’s achievements and how they could inspire girls to go into healthcare fields. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your poster. Write captions for the images you use and give your poster an eye-catching headline.
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.
3. 500-Homer Club
In 19 years in Major League Baseball, Miguel Cabrera has been one of the most powerful and consistent hitters in the game. In nine seasons he has hit more than 30 home runs, including back to back years in which he hit 44. He has had a batting average of more than .300 11 times — the standard of excellence for top hitters. And he is the last player to win the so-called Triple Crown for leading his league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in. This summer the 38-year-old Detroit Tigers star achieved another milestone — one that only 27 other hitters have reached in baseball history. In a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, he hit the 500th home run of his career, blasting a pitch 400 feet over the center field wall in a game in Toronto. “It was a great feeling,” Cabrera said, especially since it helped the Tigers defeat the Blue Jays 5-3. Miguel Cabrera has been successful in baseball over a long period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person in another field who has had success for a long period. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing the person’s success and the skills and personal character traits that made it happen.
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.
4. Made With Love
Some of the best gifts don’t come from stores but are made with love by hand. And sometimes that love can generate even more love. Consider the case of Tiffany Holloway of McLoud, Oklahoma and her 5-year-old son Jonas. Holloway is a divorced single mom who struggles to make ends meet. She couldn’t afford what Jonas wanted most for his birthday — a stuffed manta ray fish toy. So she put her creativity to work, the Washington Post newspaper reported. She drew a sewing pattern for making a manta ray, cut fabric from an old baby blanket and sewed the toy together herself. She was so pleased with how it came out she posted a picture of it online. And that’s when people started to share the love. Thousands saw her picture and hundreds offered to send Jonas other stuffed manta rays and even different toys. Some even arranged for him to visit an aquarium and a zoo where he could see live manta rays and touch them! Tiffany Holloway’s handmade manta ray got a lot of response on the Internet because it was made with love. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person doing something with love for another person. Use what you read to design a greeting card to go with the loving gesture. Give it the title “For You, With Love.” Draw a picture for the cover of the card and write a message inside. Your message can rhyme, if you like.
Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
5. Babbling Bats
In the animal kingdom, it’s hard to imagine that bats have much in common with humans. But a new discovery by scientists has revealed that the greater sac-winged bat does. The baby “pups” of the species babble in much the same way as human babies. The babbling is different from the sounds bats use to navigate or locate prey, scientists said, and they change as the bats grow. But as with human babies, the bat pups repeat syllables, babble in rhythm and babble without being prompted or stimulated by parent bats, the New York Times newspaper reported. And they babble all the time. “It instantly reminds you of [human] infants,” one researcher noted. Greater sac-winged bats are native to Central and South America and are the most commonly seen bats in rain forests. Scientists are constantly finding out new things about wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something new that scientists have discovered about a species. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for an animated cartoon explaining the discovery and why it is important. Then draw pictures to show different scenes of your cartoon.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.