, week of
Feb. 19, 2024
1. A NEW MOON LANDING
For the first time, a company—not a government agency—successfully launched a moon lander into space. Intuitive Machines is the company that built the spacecraft, which took off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center last week. Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket carried the moon lander into space, where it will spend a week in space before trying to land on the moon’s surface. If it does, the lander, which is named Odysseus, will be the first moon landing for the United States in more than 50 years. Write a summary of this story including at least five facts you learned about Odysseus.
2. FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH
February is Black History Month in the United States. It started as a weeklong celebration all the way back in the early 1900s because Black history and the accomplishments of Black people weren’t included in history books or taught in schools, so very few people knew about them. The week was extended into a month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. Today, it honors Black people throughout US history, from enslaved people in the early days of the country to civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 1960s to former President Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States. Choose a Black person who is important in US history. Research about them and write a short biography that tells who they are and what they did for the country.
3. SPECIES-SAVING ACT TURNS 50
The Endangered Species Act, which lists animals that need to be protected because they’re at risk of going extinct, is now 50 years old. The act was passed in 1973 to create a list of animals and plants that are threatened with extinction. Harming any animal or plant species that’s on the list is illegal. The act passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate when it was introduced, which means no senator voted against it, and passed by a huge majority in the House of Representatives with 345 representatives voting in favor of it and only 4 voting against it. Why is it important to save species who are in danger of extinction? Write at least five sentences about this topic.
4. YOSEMITE’S FIREFALL
A very special natural phenomenon is currently happening in Yosemite National Park in California. Every year in mid or late February, Horsetail Fall becomes the park’s star attraction. During sunset, if the conditions are just right, the light hits the seasonal waterfall at just the right angle to make it glow like it’s on fire. This event, called the “Firefall,” only happens if there was enough snow the previous winter and warm enough temperatures during February to melt that snow to create the waterfall. During colder and dryer years, the waterfall doesn’t form at all. It also has to be a clear and cloudless day with bright sunshine when the sun begins to set. It only happens during February because the sun has to hit the falls from a certain angle, and February is when the sun is at the right spot in the sky. In order to have a chance to see the Firefall, visitors have to hike 1.5 miles each way into that part of the park. If conditions are right and the Firefall is visible, it only lasts for about 3 minutes. Write a short summary about the Firefall and list what conditions are needed for it to take place.
5. DIAMOND HUNTING
At another park a few states away, a visitor left with a very special souvenir. Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is the only place in the world where visitors can look for diamonds from their original source—a volcano that here forms the crater the park is named after—and take home what they find. A visitor from Paris rented a diamond hunting kit and searched through the muddy park to see what he could find. He ended up unearthing a 7.46-carat brown diamond, the eighth largest diamond since the park was created in 1972! Write a story from the perspective of the visitor who found the large diamond in the park. Draw at least one picture to go along with it.