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For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 05, 2018

1. Cloned Monkeys

Ever since it was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996, cloning has been one of the most controversial processes in science. Now cloning has gotten renewed attention with the creation of twin macaque monkeys by scientists in the Chinese city of Shanghai. Cloning uses the genes of one animal to create genetically identical copies, rather than mixing and matching genes as happens with natural breeding. The Shanghai macaques are especially significant because they are primates, like humans. While scientists have cloned sheep, frogs, mice, rabbits, pigs, cows and even dogs, they have had little success cloning primates. The cloning of the macaques raises the question of whether scientist will try to clone humans in the future. When it was first done with Dolly the sheep, cloning was a breakthrough in science. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another scientific breakthrough. Use what you read to write a short editorial, outlining the positive benefits of the breakthrough and any drawbacks that could be side-effects of the breakthrough.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Vending Machine Drugs

Like the United States, Canada has been hard hit by the opioid drug crisis. In some Canadian cities, the death rates from drug overdoses are almost as high as those in the United States, topping 30 deaths per 100,000 people. One of the hardest hit areas in Canada is British Columbia, and the province on the nation's west coast is taking unusual action in response. To reduce overdoses with street drugs mixing heroin, fentanyl and other opioids, a British Columbia health agency will install vending machines that distribute prescription opioids to addicts instead. Under a pilot project, the vending machines will distribute hydromorphone pills, a powerful prescription opioid that can be an alternative to street drugs. Under the project, drug users will be able to get two to three hydromorphone pills three times a day at a daily cost of roughly 3 Canadian dollars. The plan to use vending machines to distribute "safe" opioids to addicts has caused controversy in British Columbia. Divide the class into two teams and research the pluses and minuses of such plans. Then stage a class debate on the issue. Take a vote at the end on whether it is a good idea to distribute opioids through vending machines. Write up the result of the vote as a news story.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

3. Driverless Car Suit

Technology companies and car companies are moving quickly to develop and test driverless cars. There are still some bugs to be worked out, and not just in the way the cars operate. A case in California has raised the question "Who is responsible if there is an accident?" A San Francisco motorcyclist has filed a lawsuit against General Motors, in which he accuses a GM driverless car with "negligent driving." Motorcyclist Oscar Willhelm Nilsson claims he was knocked to the ground and injured while traveling a San Francisco street when the GM vehicle swerved into his lane, leaving him injured and unable to work. While police said Nilsson was at fault for trying to pass the GM car unsafely, legal experts say many more suits involving responsibility could follow as more driverless cars hit the road. Many transportation experts think driverless cars will be common in the future. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the development of driverless cars. Use what you read to write a consumer column, outlining issues that still have to be resolved before driverless cars will be widely used.

Common Core State Standards: reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Sports Unity

Ever since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Asian nations of North and South Korea have been bitter rivals and adversaries. But when the Winter Olympics begin February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the two countries will join together in a rare display of unity. After intense negotiations, the two nations have announced that North and South Korean athletes will march together under a unified flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics and compete together as a joint women's ice hockey team. Skiers from the two nations also have been training together and athletes will participate in joint activities during the Games. The decision of North and South Korea to march jointly at the Winter Olympics is being viewed as a breakthrough in the relationship between the two nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how the decision could change or improve future relations. Use what you read to write an analysis of what improved relations between the nations could mean for the region, and for the United States and other nations.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Deadly Drunk Driving

Every year, drunken driving accidents kill more than 10,000 people in the United States. To reduce that number, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving group is pushing states to pass laws that would use technology to block people from driving while drunk. MADD wants states to require that "interlock devices" be installed on the cars of all drunk driving violators, not just repeat offenders. The devices work like Breathalyzer tests to measure the alcohol level of people and block a car from starting if the alcohol level is over the legal limit. Use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read stories about "interlock devices" and their effectiveness to reduce drunken driving. Use what you read to design and write a series of ads for the newspaper or Internet urging state legislatures to pass laws requiring these devices on cars of drunk driving violators. Make sure your ads have eye catching headlines to get people's attention.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.