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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 04, 2023

1. BRAIN TRUST

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a neurodegenerative disease common after repeated head trauma, has been linked to professional football players. However, a new study of 152 brains of athletes who died before the age of 30 showed 40 percent of them already showed signs of CTE. It diagnosed what they believe to be the first American female athlete with the disease and identified it in amateur youth, high school, and college athletes who participated in football, soccer, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling. Read more about CTE online. Then, write a short article that explains the effects of CTE, how it’s diagnosed, and what this recent study might mean for young athletes.

2. THOSE IN GLASS HOUSES

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is under new scrutiny from the federal government for allegedly using company funds to build a secret glass house in Texas. The multimillion-dollar home project is now being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a US Attorney’s Office in New York, but no official charges have been filed. The SEC investigation is to determine if Musk broke rules that require public companies to disclose benefits paid to top executives and any transactions that benefit a company representative worth more than $120,000. Musk has previously claimed a “low-maintenance” lifestyle, saying he primarily lived in a $50,000 home in south Texas; the alleged new project that required millions of dollars in specialized glass would contradict that public persona. Summarize this story in your own words, including key background information about Musk that you find in your newspaper or online.

3. TRAVELERS’ WARNING

With the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and protests in the US, Canada has issued a travel warning to advise its residents to be aware when traveling to some US states. It reads, ”some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” using the country’s common abbreviation for those who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or intersex. A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, who issued the warning, cited the banning of drag shows, targeted legislation toward the transgender community, and Florida’s restrictions of pronoun use and discussion of gender and sexuality in classrooms, as reasons for the guidance. Familiarize yourself with the countries that the US and Canada issued travel warnings against for its citizens and what the warnings are about. Then, write a short article comparing those with the Canada advisory against the US for its LGBTQ+ citizens.

4. A MYSTERIOUS BURIAL

Following the suspicious death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian mercenary leader who was killed in a plane crash last month, his funeral was similarly shrouded in mystery. There was increased security around several cemeteries in Prigozhin’s hometown, St. Petersburg, while false reports spread of decoy hearses and funeral processions. Once it was announced that Prigozhin was buried in Porokhovskoye Cemetery in St. Petersburg, the cemetery was surrounded by police and military, keeping most of the public away from the gravesite. Some speculate that the security presence and rumors were to keep crowds of supporters from gathering for the man who led a short-lived mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Much of the stories surrounding Prigozhin have involved dissecting fact from unsubstantiated rumors; write a paragraph about how you would approach reporting on such stories and how you would fact check information.

5. RIDING SHOTGUN

Police in Nebraska pulled over a man who was driving a bull in his car. The Ford Crown Victoria had been modified to have a cattle gate as the passenger side door as well as the roof and half the windshield removed to make room for Howdy Doody, the driver’s Watusi bull. Lee Meyer, Howdy Doody’s owner, has won “best car” in Nebraska’s Big Rodeo Parade and displayed his unique sidekick in several parades around the state. While Meyer had committed some traffic violations with the drive, he was let off with a warning and the instructions to take Howdy Doody home. If you were to interview Meyer and the police that pulled him over, what questions would you ask to put together this story? What details would you pull out to tell the story from a unique angle? Write down your answers and share with your classmates.