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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 21, 2023

1. STORM WARNING

A large, powerful storm headed toward the Baja California Peninsula and Southern US last week, causing the National Hurricane Center to issue its first ever tropical storm watch for Southern California. Storms are named when their winds reach 39 miles per hour, they’re called a hurricane at 74 miles per hour, and upgraded to a major hurricane at 111 miles per hour. This storm, Hurricane Hilary, has winds close to 130 miles per hour. It was expected to be a weaker hurricane when it reaches the west coast of Mexico, then downgrade to a tropical storm before reaching California. Research online about how the names of storms are decided. Then, write a short article explaining the process.

2. A NICKEL FOR EVERY TIME…

Indonesia is the unlikely hub for producing electric vehicles in the world. They have the earth’s largest reserves of nickel, a mineral needed for batteries for electric cars and motorcycles. However, they’ve become caught in the tension between the United States and China. The country’s ability to harvest and refine nickel depends on Chinese technology and investments, which has put Indonesia at odds with the United States at a time when they’re ramping up production of electric vehicles. The Biden Administration has offered tax credits for producing electric cars, but only for cars made with parts and materials produced in the country or by countries friendly to the US, which doesn’t include those close with China. Write down ideas of how the United States could still encourage building electric cars—should they make an exception to the tax break rules for nickel from Indonesia? Should they look for other sources of nickel or other materials to make batteries from?

3. AIDE IN TROUBLE

A aide for Representative George Santos impersonated House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s former chief of staff in fundraising emails and phone calls for Santos’ campaign. He’s now been charged with identity theft, false statements, and wire fraud, which is a fraud crime that involves the internet, telephone, or other electronic media. He was fired when Rep. Santos learned of his actions and now faces legal consequences for his actions in 2021, which could include at least two years of prison time. Write a paragraph explaining why impersonating someone else is wrong, especially when it’s in a political campaign or used for fundraising.

4. BATTERYGATE

Apple was recently sued for slowing down older iPhones in order to get people to buy newer ones. The lawsuit took place in 2020, but those who were part of it will finally see the payout—about $65 per person, for a total of between $310 million and $500 million from the company. The issue was mainly with iPhone batteries and when some users had their batteries replaced, their phone’s performance issues were solved. After the lawsuit, Apple admitted it slowed down older phones because as the batteries got older, they could cause the phones to suddenly shut down. Apple reached a settlement in the lawsuit, but still denied they did anything wrong. Write a short paragraph on whether you think Apple was right or wrong for slowing down their old phones and why.

5. MEDICATION SHORTAGE

As a new school year starts, some kids are struggling in the classroom and in friendships because of medication shortages. There’s been a shortage of drugs that treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for almost a year, causing parents to either switch their kids to other medications that may be less effective for them, or skip doses entirely to keep pills for when they’re most needed. Write a paragraph about why you think it would be difficult for someone to do well in school or maintain friendships when they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. How could you support a friend who’s struggling?