1. Pro at 13
Turning pro is a big deal for any athlete. But few do it as early as soccer player Olivia Moultrie. She has just announced she is turning pro — at age 13. And she already has a multi-year endorsement contract with Nike. Terms of the Nike deal were not announced, but they were said to be valued more than a four-year college scholarship of $300,000. In signing with Nike, Moultrie gave up a college scholarship she had been awarded from the University of North Carolina — back when she was 11! It’s not clear where Moultrie will play next. Many teams, including the developmental teams of the National Women’s Soccer League and pro teams in Europe, require players to be at least 18 years old. She would need to be granted an exception to the rules to play for either. Moultrie, who is home schooled, has been working toward a career in soccer since she was 7 and has trained with top teams in both the United States and Europe. Olivia Moultrie is one of the nation’s top young women soccer players. But playing against adult professionals will present new challenges. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Olivia Moultrie’s decision to turn pro. Use what you read to write a sports column analyzing the benefits, challenges and risks of her decision.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. Ocean Trenches
In the world’s oceans, trenches are the deepest spots on the ocean floor. They are so deep that very little light penetrates the water, and the creatures that live there have had to adapt to extreme water pressure and harsh conditions. One thing that has penetrated trenches, however, is manmade plastic, and it is now affecting the sea life in these deep ocean spots. Scientists who have studied trench life report that microscopic bits of plastic have sunk to the bottom of trenches, and they are turning up in the stomachs of creatures that live there. In a study of trench creatures known as amphipods, researchers from Newcastle University in the European nation of England have found plastic fragments in 72 percent of the amphipods that the team collected. In the 6.8-mile-deep Mariana Trench, the lowest point in any ocean, every single specimen had plastic in its stomach. From local beaches to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, plastic pollution is a problem for oceans all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ocean plastic pollution. Use what you read to write a short editorial explaining how big the problem is and what the nations of the world could do about it.
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. 7-Eleven — in India!
Founded in the United States, 7-Eleven is now the world's largest convenience store chain. It has more than 67,000 stores in the United States and 16 other countries, and now it is looking to make a splash in a huge new market. The chain has announced it will set up its first stores in the Asian nation of India and compete for business with thousands of small neighborhood stores. With 1.4-billion people, India has the second largest population in the world after China. Because an estimated 98 percent of Indians do their grocery shopping in local stores, 7-Eleven feels there is great opportunity for stores offering beverages, snacks, fresh foods, internationally popular products and recipes developed for local tastes. Businesses often try new things to grow or attract more customers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business trying something new. Use what you read to write a paragraph predicting whether you think the new approach will be successful, and why. If you think another approach would be more successful, discuss that as well.
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. History in a Box
Going through the attic of a house can often feel like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find, and sometimes discoveries are amazing. A couple in the state of Florida made one of those amazing discoveries recently, when they were cleaning out the attic of a house they wanted to sell. Inside a box they found a military Medal of Honor that dates back to the time of President Abraham Lincoln. The medal honored a soldier named Mark Wood, who was one of the first Medal of Honor recipients back in the 1860s. Wood, who came from the state of Ohio, took part in a mission known as “Andrews’ Raid,” which was one of the first efforts at espionage by the Union army, according to Ohio historians. Wood and 21 other Union soldiers stole a Confederate locomotive and attempted to deliver it to Union forces. Wood and the others were captured but later honored by the president for their efforts. Wood was a corporal at the time of the raid but later rose to the rank of lieutenant. The history of communities, states or the nation is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery or observance that puts a spotlight on history. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how learning more about the past can help people better understand life in the present.
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.
5. What a Big Bee
Bees come in all shapes and sizes, but some aren’t easy to see. In fact, the world’s largest bee had not been seen in the wild for 38 years— until this January. The bee, known as the Wallace’s giant bee, was spotted on a remote island of the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia. The bee was a female about an inch and a half long with a one-inch tongue and a pair of huge mandible “pincers.” It was found near the site of its last sighting by scientists taking part in an expedition of the Global Wildlife Conservation group’s Search for Lost Species. The scientists took photos and videos of the rare giant bee, and they quickly went viral on the Internet. Because it had not been seen since 1981, the Wallace’s giant bee had been presumed extinct before the January sighting. Scientists all over the world are concerned about wildlife species that could become extinct. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such species. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, detailing challenges faced by the species and things communities or nations could do to improve its chances for survival.
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.