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Need a quick activity? These news shorts and extension activities are a great way to bring the news into your classroom.






Did you ever hear the song,"Fly Me to the Moon"? For the first time in 45 years, a 240,000( one way)manned trip to the moon is planned for 2018. Instead of the mission being part of NASA and involving astronauts, this trip will be for space tourists aboard the Space X. Space X is a privately owned spaceship company owned by Elon Musk. The two people who will take this out of this world trip will have to undergo medical exams and training. They also will pay a large amount of money for the weeklong trip which will do a loop around the moon. The spaceship will also make a close encounter with the moon but will not land. In case you are wondering, 24 astronauts journeyed to the moon with 12 astronauts actually walking on its surface. The first man to ever walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong(followed by Buzz Aldrin). SpaceX has an even larger goal, a one day human settlement on Mars!

  • 1. Would you want to be a space tourist to take a trip around the moon? Why or why not?
  • 2. What would be something you would bring along for the journey?
  • 3. There will only be the two space tourists. Would you feel more confident if there was a trained astronaut aboard the spaceship?
  • Illustration of Space X Dragon Spacecraft: SpaceX.com



    Imagine if you didn't do well on a test. Did you ever wish you could get a few more points onto your test so you'd have a passing grade? A school in Nanjing,China, has opened a "grade bank". Yes, a grade bank! The idea is that students could withdraw or borrow a few points from the bank to bring their score up to a passing grade. In return, students that make withdrawals must repay the "grade bank", with interest. The student would return some points from their next test score to the "grade bank". Additional ways to return your loan include doing public presentations or extra credit. For those students that borrow points and do not return them, the bank bars them from future withdrawals. Currently, the concept is only being used by students in the top ranking in their class.


    YOUR TURN

  • What do you think of such a grade bank?
  • Would you participate in such a program?
  • Do you think such a grade bank makes students more or less likely to prepare for a test? Why?

  • Slippers in school? Some elementary schools in Great Britain are allowing children to wear their fuzzy slippers in the classrooms. Kids seem to like the idea and a study suggests that there is a positive result when students don slippers instead of shoes for their lessons. Slippers give the wear more relaxation and the result, says the study(Bournemouth University), makes for better learning. Schools in Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden have long encouraged slippers over shoes in the classroom.The study has found that slippers also seem to foster positive behavior in the classroom.What do you think?

    Illustration from wpclipart.com

    Private companies are beginning to look into commercial development of the moon. Companies are also looking at asteroids to make money. Both the moon and asteroids have minerals which can be mined and brought back to Earth. Additional, scientists say that the moon has lots of helium would also be a valuable resource for companies to harvest. Back in 1966, the Outer Space Treaty established rules for extraterrestrial activities. The treaty states that no weapons or claiming of land can be done. It also states that all businesses should be for peaceful purpose. In 2015,the United States passed the Commerical Space Launch Competitiveness Act which says that private companies can sell resources retrieved from space.

  • Does anyone OWN the moon? Do you think someone can claim that they own the moon?

  • After 146 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus will be closing its tent. Their last performance will be in May. In recent years, people have argued that the wild animals should not be held in captivity and questioned the treatment of the circus animals. Just last year, the elephants were removed from the circus shows. The company, Feld Entertainment, says the tigers, camels, lions, kangaroos, alpacas and other animals will go to new homes. At one time, a circus coming to town was a big event. Some schools would even close to allow the students to witness the parade of animals as the circus came to their community. With television nature shows and the internet, people can now easily see such animals, and in their natural habitats.

  • What do you think of the end of this very famous circus?

  • A rural school in Colorado will be allowing guns for qualified teachers and staff. What do you think of this idea? Would your knowing trained teachers and staff were carrying weapons make you feel safer? Less safe? Explain your comments.


    There are therapy dogs, cats, rabbits, and even a miniature horse. Now, the San Francisco International Airport has the first-ever therapy PIG. LiLou wears a vest which says, "Pet Me!" and wears different outfits, including a blue tutu and a pilot outfit. Her toe nails are painted,too. A Juliana-breed pig, she is the first pig to join the San Francisco SPCA's animal-assisted therapy program called the Wag Brigade. Begun in 2013, there are over 300 animals currently working the terminals at the airport. The aim is to make passengers less stressed about flying. LiLou doesn't just walk around the terminal looking for attention. She brings attention to herself not only with her looks but with her tricks. She even can entertain passengers playing her toy piano! She is also housebroken.

    Your Turn!

  • Write a diary entry pretending they are at the airport and see LiLou. What do they think when you first see her? Describe LiLou. What do you do? Etc.
  • What is a Pun? Come up with a pun for this news story.
  • What do you know about pigs? Draw and color a picture of LiLou in your very own outfit. Find 4 facts to share with others about pigs and write them on your drawing.



  • *photograph from snopes.com

    President-elect Donald Trump says that burning the American flag should be a crime and those doing so should be punished with "loss of citizenship or year in jail". Back in 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that although you maynot like someone burning the symbol of the United States, that it is considered to be an act of free speech and protected under the 1st amendment. Donald Trump would like to see it against the law to burn the flag, an action that would require the Congress to vote to override the Supreme Court decision. In 2006, a "Flag Desecration Amendment" failed to pass by one vote (in the Senate) after being passed in the House of Representatives.

    What do you think?
  • Should it be against the law to burn the American flag? Why or why not?

  • Dogs and cats have been used as therapy animals but a duck is rather unusual in the profession of helping humans deal with emotional issues.Daniel the Duck, full name Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt, is a support animal. His task is to help his owner deal with emotional trauma from a very serious accident. Daniel was adopted as a two day old duckling by Carla Fitzgerald(Milwaukee,Wisconsin). Recently, Daniel made news when he was allowed to waddle down the aisle of an airplane and take his seat alongside his owner. Wearing a Captain America diaper and bright red shoes, Daniel didn't ruffle any feathers as he sat in a seat on the airplane providing comfort to his owner who suffers from panic attacks.

  • What do you think of a therapy duck?
  • Photograph from abc7news.com





    What do you think? Kids in a classroom at a middle school in North Carolina have bike pedals under their desks! The idea is to help students focus better on their lessons and prevent fidgeting. Photograph from bbc.com


    Photograph from ksbw.com

    An unusual squid was spotted off the coast of Big Sur,California. The purple squid with the adorable big eyes was found at a depth of about 3000 ft. Usually the Opisthoteuthis ADORABILIS squid buries itself in the sediment with just its eye sticking out searching for food to nibble.

    Your Thoughts
  • What was your first reaction when you saw the photograph of the squid?
  • Describe the purple squid.
  • Pretend you are the purple squid. Tell about a day in your life living on the ocean floor.



  • Illustration from wpclipart.com

    The continents are moving and especially Australia has been on the move. Scientists estimate that the continent moves about 2.7 inches north each year.

    Your Thoughts
  • What do you think might be effected with the continent having moved about 6ft. since 1994?
  • Write a newspaper headline for this news story


  • or


    As you are sitting in your classroom, are there many decorations in the room? Which type of classroom do you prefer, one that has lots of things displayed in the room or one with little items on display? If you could decorate a classroom, what types of items would you place on display?

    Photograph from Oregonstate.edu

    Do you have a favorite color? Scientists at Oregon State University have accidentally discovered a NEW color and it's a beautiful blue. The new color came about while scientists were experimenting with different materials that could be used in electronic technology. The pigment,which doesn't fade and is not toxic, also has applications for the environment as it reflects infrared light. Used on roofs, the pigment would be able to keep buildings cool. Currently, the new color is called "YinMn" blue.

  • What would YOU name this new blue coloring?


  • Photograph from wpclipart.com


    Fireworks are an invention from the Chinese to the world. The colorful light shows create lots of smiles when fireworks brighten up the night sky. Not all creatures like the light shows. Dogs especially dread the noise of fireworks. The sounds of fireworks really hurts their sensitive ears. A town in Italy, Collecchio, has taken action to help their four legged population. They banned fireworks with noise and have decided to purchase future fireworks from a company which produces silent ones.

    What do you think?

  • Would a firework display lose its enjoyment if they were silent?
  • What do you think of Collecchio's new law?


  • A Seagull in England fell into a vat of curry and turned bright orange! He's OK and is now back to his normal color.

  • Write a caption for the photograph.
  • Write a diary entry explaining how you fell into the vat of curry.
  • Note: Photograph from CNN.com



    Five sports are being considered for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games which will be held in Tokyo, Japan. The International Olympic Committee will be review skateboarding, surfing, karate, rock climbing and baseball/softball to be added to the list of sports. Not all those sports on this list will be added. If you could select one of these sports to be included, which would it be and why? Illustration from wpclipart.com



    A baby bison had to be euthanized at Yellowstone National Park. Seems some visitors to the park picked up the adorable calf, thinking it had been abandoned by its mom. They had first tried to get the baby bison off the road. They were unable to do so and with no cell phone coverage, the calf was placed into their car and transported to the ranger station. Actually, it is an illegal act to interfere with the wildlife in a national park. Rangers released the calf back into the wild. Unfortunately, the calf was ostracized by the rest of the herd, perhaps because the newborn had human smells on its body. Additional attempts were made to find another herd of buffalo that would adopt the little tyke but were unsuccessful. Since the park has no way of caring for an abandoned calf, the calf was euthanized.Photograph from:ABC7.com

  • What are your thoughts about this news story?


  • Shanghai Disneyland is opening in June. This will be the fourth Disneyland outside of the United States. Other Disney parks are found in Paris(France), Hong Kong(China) and Tokyo(Japan).Photograph from: Shanghaidisneyresort.com

    Your thoughts

  • 1. What are three things which come to mind when you think of Disney?
  • 2. Culture Contact is when customs of one culture are shared with another culture.For example, the idea of skiing comes from the people of Norway. The Spanish brought horses to North America and Native Americans shared the idea of using fish to fertilize corn plants with the Pilgrims. The umbrella and fireworks originated with the Chinese. Can you think of 3 things we have from other cultures of the world?
  • 3. Can you think of any negative things that can happen when different cultures meet?

  • The national symbol of the United States is the bald eagle and the United States may soon have a national mammal. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make the North American bison, the national mammal. The U.S Senate needs to vote on the bill and if approved, it will then go to President Obama's desk for signature.

    Your thoughts:

  • Do you think the bison should be named the national mammal of the United States? Why, why not?
  • Why do you think the bison was selected as the mammal to represent the United States?
  • Can you think of 1-2 facts about the North American bison?
  • Photograph from wpclipart.com



    Born without a lower jaw bone made breathing and eating were very difficult for a gold fish. Dr.Brian Palmeiro, a vet from Allentown, PA, took the "bait" and researched how he could help the little gold fish. He made a type of braces fashioned from a plastic credit card. The fish is named Mr. Hot Wings and since the surgery, Mr. Hot Wings is doing "swimmingly".Photograph from Lehigh Valley Veterinary Dermatology Facebook page

    Your thoughts:

  • Think of a news headline for this story.
  • What question might you ask about the procedure?



  • * Photograph from weather.com

    Imagine all the presidents gathered in one place. In a field in Croaker, Virginia, such a sight can be found. Part of a sculpture park that closed, the giant busts of the presidents still remain standing. The weather hasn't been kind to the 43 Presidents(President Obama, the 44th president isn't represented as the park closed in 2010), each of which stand about 20 ft. tall and weigh between 11,000 and 20,000 pounds.George Washington's face is falling off. Ronald Reagan has a large scar from a lightning strike. Others have cracks or holes in their head. Someone is hoping to create a new museum to display the Presidential busts.

  • Pretend you are one of the presidents. Who would you be? Write about what you hear, see, feel, smell, etc., as you spend your days and nights in the field.



  • Could you stay in a small confined space for almost year? Could you stay indoors and not feel the sun or breeze on your face for almost a year? Could you be apart from your families and friends for almost a year? That's what astronaut Scott Kelly did. He returned on March 1st to Earth after spending 340 days at the International Space Station. Admitting that it was a long time, Kelly said he was encouraged that astronauts could even spend longer times in space. That is what would be needed for a manned trip to the planet Mars. Kelly's living space at the ISS was about the space of a phone booth. He did have internet access to keep in touch with famiy and friends back on Earth. Kelly said there were definitely things he missed while at the ISS. He said that being apart from people that he cared about was difficult. However, Kelly also says the return to earth was bittersweet. Just imagine the spectacular view he had of the Earth from space as he traveled around the Earth at about five miles per second or the beautiful sun rises he got a chance to see from space. Together with his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who stayed Earth-bound, the brothers were also able to do much to help scientists to study the long term effects of space on the human body. In total, Astronaut Kelly has the most time in space for an American, with a total of 520 days(over four flights). He ranks 17 in the world for total time in space.

    What do YOU Think?

  • What would be the first food you would eat on returning to Earth?
  • What would be the first activity you would want to experience after such a long time in space?
  • Would YOU be able to endure such a record time in space? Why, why not?




  • *Illustration from wpclipart.com Did you know that whales are still hunted? Although a worldwide ban on commercial whaling was established in 1986, whale hunting for scientific research is still allowed. In December, Japanese whaling ships set out for the Southern Ocean, of Antarctica. By March, the goal is to capture and kill at least 333 minke whales. The United Nations has asked Japan to stop their whaling efforts in the area of Antarctica but Japan has refused. Additionally, although the Japan says the hunting is strictly for scientific purposes, it is believed that many of the captured whales WILL be used for meat. One group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, will try and hinder the Japanese whaling operations by using their ship to chase away the Japanese whaling ships for the Southern Ocean.

    What do you Think?
  • 1. Should Japan stop their whaling policies of capturing and killing the whales? Why or why not?
  • 2.What do you think of the group's Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?
  • Extension Activities:
  • 1. Learn about minke whales: Enchantedlearning Draw/color a picture of a whale and write three facts learned.
  • 2. Pretend you are a whale hunter. Write a diary of a day out on the water searching for a whale. Pretend you are a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Write a diary telling about a day being on the ship trying to chase away the Japanese whaling ships from the waters.
  • 3. The USA, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Australia have asked both the Japanese whaling ships and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to both, "chill out". Why do you think these countries are concerned about what is going on in the Southern Ocean?Write a paragraph explaining your view.




  • A man in England has begun a petition to ban POPCORN in movie theaters. He says that the noise from people chomping on the yellow buttery snacks during a movie is very annoying. Mike Shotton says that it was just TOO much during his recently viewing of Star Wars:The Force Awakens, and that's why he started the petition. He said it was difficult to hear the voices over all those grabbing a scoop of popcorn from their containers and then, eating the popcorn. Others have started a counter petition, to keep popcorn in theaters.

  • What do you think?
  • Which petition would you sign?
  • Note: Illustration from express.co.uk


    Photograph from Washingtonpost.com

    1/7/16:Elaine Harmon was one of 350,000 woman that served during World War 2. Harmon was part of the Women Air Force Service Pilots(WASP) and served as a pilot during the war. Women were needed to help when male pilots were in combat missions. Harmon was one of 1074 women who earned their pilots' licenses and "wings" to fly and were responsible for flying new planes from factories, over long distances to military bases. They also assisted in air gunner training missions by towing targets for the gunners to shoot.(Did I mention there was actually ammunition in the target practices?) Considered to be "civilians", Congress eventually granted the WASPs veteran status, in 1977, making them eligible to be buried in Arlington Cemetery. Over this time, women were allowed to have their ashes buried at the cemetery until last year when the Secretary of the Army, at the time, said women should never have been allowed buried in Arlington and took away their eligibility! When Harmon died last year, her wish was that her ashes be buried in Arlington Cemetery. At this time, the Army has denied the request for Harmon's ashes to be buried at this honored cemetery for veterans. Arlington Cemetery says that space is limited. However, the rules state that "any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty and whose last service terminated honorably" can have their ashes buried at Arlington. Read more:Woman Pilot

    What do you think?
  • Should all veteran's who wish to be buried at Arlington be allowed this tribute?
  • Did you know that the women pilots during WW2 didn't get insurance and, if killed, didn't get any payment from the Army? A collection was taken by the other women pilots to help pay the expenses of sending the body home. What do you think of this?
  • Did you know that the WASP program was a "secret" for many years? It was feared that if the enemy knew women were flying planes during the war, it would appear that our country was weak and desperate. What do you think of this?


  • Photograph from:uknews.yahoo.com

    12/1/15:Due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France, a ban prevented people from gathering to show their support for a gathering of more than 160 nations on the issue of global warming. Instead, thousands of people did a different kind of gathering,on Sunday, November 29th, they lined up their shoes!The result was an amazing display of thousands of pairs of empty shoes. Even Pope Francis and the US Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon donated shoes for the event. Many of the shoes held notes and some people actually filled their shoes with flowers and plants.

    What Do You Think?

  • Write a caption for the photograph
  • Pretend you are one of the shoes. What are you thinking?

  • Photograph of King Tut's tomb from CSmonitor.com

    11/15:After several days of radon scans, scientists think there is a 90% chance there IS a hidden chamber behind a wall in King Tut's tomb. Tut, short for Tutankhamun, is the only tomb found to date that still have much of its treasures and mummy inside. The tomb was discovered by archaeologist, Howard Carter, back in 1922. The investigation was done after an earlier infrared thermography study found a difference in temperatures suggesting there might be something behind the wall. It is not clear what the possible hidden chamber contains. Egypt.Could it be another tomb? Some are saying it may contain the remains of Nefertiti, famous queen of ancient Egypt!

    What do you Think?
  • To find the tomb, part of the wall of Tut's tomb would have to be disturbed. Do you think this should be done?
  • What if there isn't anything behind the wall? Would doing damage to the tomb have been worth it?
  • Write a news headline for the story(if a hidden chamber was found or if nothing was found behind the wall).

  • Gum Wall in Seattle. What do you think?

    If you go to Seattle, Washington, there is an unusual wall that draws tourists. It's called the "gum wall". Near Pike Place Market, for nearly twenty years people have been plopping their used gum onto the wall. It is estimated that about 2200 pounds of gum are stuck on the wall! Another estimate is that there are close to 1 million pieces of used chewing gum on the wall. You can smell the spearmint, bubble gum and watermelon in the area as you walk near the wall. Now, due to rodents being attracted to the area, the city has hired a cleaning crew to power wash the wall of all the colorful wads of gum. The question is whether people will again start to leave their chewed gum on the wall!

    What do YOU think?
  • What do you think of a gum wall? Would you like to have a photograph taken by it? Why, why not?
  • Do you think the twenty year old gum wall should be cleaned? Is it an eyesore or a tourist attraction?

  • Pretend you are a wad of gum living on the wall. Write about a day in your life. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? OR, tell about your last day as the power washer starts to remove you from the wall.
  • SeaWorld to End Orca shows at San Diego Park

    SeaWorld has announced that it will be ending its killer whale shows at its San Diego park.The shows will end after 2016. Back in 2013,a documentary called "Blackfish"addressed the treatment of orcas in captivity at SeaWorld. It is believed that SeaWorld is responding to the criticism that resulted from the movie.
    What do YOU think?

  • At the present time, the killer whale(Shamu)shows will continue at both the San Antonio and Orlando parks. Why do you think SeaWorld didn't end the performances at these parks?
  • A congressman,Rep. Adam Schiff, has introduced legislation that ALL orca performances in the U.S.A should be phased out. What do you think of this proposal?
  • Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus announced earlier in the year, that they will be phasing out elephants from circus performances. Can you think of another example of animal treatment which you feel should be addressed?
  • Photograph from Latimes.com

    Virtual Money?

    The country of Sweden is doing away with something you probably are carrying in your wallet...cash! Sweden is moving to a cashless way of life, the first such country to do so. It's not going to happen overnight but over a 15 year time period. Buses no longer accept cash,more and more kids get their allowance placed on a card and banks are getting rid of their ATM machines. The people of Sweden seem to like the direction money is heading in their country! What do you think?

    Questions:
  • What might be the benefits of virtual money?
  • What might be the negatives of virtual money?
  • What do you think of this idea?

  • WHO OWNS THIS PHOTOGRAPH?
    A couple of years ago, a macaque found a camera that had been left unattended. Named Naruto, the monkey started to snap pictures, including a fantastic selfie. The owner of the camera got his camera back and published the photographs. Now, an animal rights organization has filed a lawsuit claiming the photographs are the property of Naruto. PETA says that if the courts rule in favor of the macaque, it will be the first time a right(in this cause, ownership of property) is giving to a non-human animal. What do you think?
  • Who owns the photographs, the owner of the camera or the monkey?Why?
  • Write a caption for the photograph.

  • Photograph from news.discovery.com

    FRANKENVIRUS TO BE REVIVED!

    Photograph from Smh.com.au

    9/2015:Scientists in France have found a 30,000 year old virus in Siberian.Called Mollivirus sibericum(meaning soft Siberian virus), the prehistoric virus is considered a "giant virus" because of its large size That's why it's been nicknamed, Frankenvirus. Viruses can live dormant for years, thousands of them, and the scientists are planning to try and bring this prehistoric virus back to a living state! This isn't the first time a virus has been brought back to life. In 2004, a Spanish flu virus, from about 100 years ago,which killed millions of people, was revised. The researchers wonder whether frozen virus, may be awoken from their dormant state as an effect of climate change on our planet.

    What do you Think?

  • Do you think this or any virus should be awaken? Why,why not?
  • Why do you think Scientists revived a deadly Spanish Flu virus in 2004?


  • Although for many years, Mount McKinley,( 20,320 ft) the highest peak in North America, has also been called by its native American name, Denali, President Obama has now made it official.Visiting Alaska for the very first time, the President announced that the Athabascan name Denali(meaning "the high one"), will formally be recognized by the federal government. The mountain, originally called Denali by the natives of Alaska was changed to McKinley by a prospector, almost 100 years ago. McKinley was running for president and the prospector wished to honor the candidate, he supported, for the 25th president of the United States. McKinley was from the state of Ohio. Some, especially those residents of Alaska, have been wanting to see the name returned to its original name. Others, especially people from Ohio, the home state of McKinley, think it's a disgrace to remove his name from the mountain. What do you think? Why?

    Six scientists have entered a dome, 36 ft. in diameter and 20 ft. tall, on the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. They will stay inside the dome for 365 days! Part of a NASA program(HI-SEAS or Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) to study the effects on a long mission to Mars, the location mimics the landscape found on the planet Mars. The dome has six bedrooms, a bathroom, exercise area, dining area, kitchen and a lab. At some times, the scientists will conduct experiments outside the habitat but only while wearing space suits.

    Photograph from abc.net.au


    Questions:
  • Could you spend a year in a dome?
  • What would be three things you'd take along with you?
  • What would you miss the most?
  • What might be some issues living in such a dome with five other people?
  • What would be the first thing, you'd wish to do when you left the dome, 365 days later?
  • Activity:
    Write a diary entry about your first week in the dome.






    Perhaps, you may find this a great "Picture, This", activity!

    What do you see? If you think this looks like a cuddly bunnie,that's what this marine slug has been nicknamed. The adorable slug, of the Jorunna Parva species,is found in the Indian Ocean, to Japan and the Philippines. Discovered back in 1938, the "sea bunnies" have only become known to the rest of the world, last year, with the release of some very cool photographs(such as this one).

    Ask kids to look at the photograph:
  • 1. Write three descriptions to describe the marine slug.
  • 2. Write a day in your life as a "sea bunny". What do you see? What do you do? What do think about as you spend your life living on the ocean floor.
  • 3. In Japanese,the slugs are called KAWAII(which is Japanese for "cute"). What is one word you'd use to describe the slug?
  • Photograph from oddity central.com-more photographs here, too.



    On July 4th, the Tour de France began and will end on July 26th. It's considered the world's biggest and most exciting bicycling race. Athletes competing in the race will travel approximately 2072 miles during the 22 day race. This year's Tour de France began in Utrecht,Netherlands.Cyclists will also travel through parts of Belgium and end in Paris,France, along the Champs-Elysees. Each day(called stages), a leader will be awarded a yellow jersey(or Maillot Jaune in French). In addition to the yellow jersey, there is a polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber(king of the mountains), a white jersey( the best youngest rider) and a green jersey(best sprinter).The Tour de France began in 1903.

    Fun Facts:
  • Only men compete in the Tour de France.
  • Approximately, 123,900 calories are burned by each rider in the Tour de France.
  • 42,000 water bottles will be used by the racers!
  • Someone figured out that enough sweat is created from racers competing in the 22 day race, to flush a toilet 39 times!
  • Riders from France have won the most races!(36 as of 2014)
  • Vocabulary word: Peloton, the term for the "pack" of riders.
  • Extension Activities:
  • Write a diary pretending to be one of the cyclists in the Tour de France. What do you see? Feel? Hear?
  • Try this FREE crossword puzzle on France: http://gailhennessey.com/index.shtml?francepuzzler.html
  • Draw/color a picture of a bicycle. Write a fact learned about the Tour de France on your drawing.
  • Read about the Eiffel Tower, one of France's most famous landmarks:Eiffel Tower Reading
  • Learn some fun facts about France:ScienceKids.co.nzandtimeforkids.com

    Just WHAT is a SPORT?

    Quick, name 7 sports! Did you list video games as one of your sports? Just what is a sport,anyway? According to a recent report by the Youth Sport Trust,a charity organization, in Great Britain, almost one quarter of kids asked, listed playing video games as a sport!

    Discussion Questions
  • Do you think playing computer games is a form of exercise? Why, why not?
  • Write a definition of "sport".
  • What are your two most favorite sports and why?

  • Photograph from openclipart.com

    New PINK Octopus Found!

    A very unique new octopus was discovered in the Pacific. It’s PINK! About the size of a fist, the octopus is rather adorable and, may be named "Adorabilis", or more correctly "Opisthoteuthis Adorabilis". Little is actually known about the cephalopod, which lives in very deep(about 2600 ft.) and frigid water temperatures. Thus far, twelve females have been discovered. Scientists hope to breed some of the "adorabilis" in the lab but that it may take up to two or three years to develop as they grow very, very slowly!

    Photograph from news.discovery.com
    Suggestions
  • What would you name it?
  • Tell a day in your life as the pink octopus. What do you see? Feel?as you live in the depths of the Pacific Ocean?

  • U.S. Treasury to Place a Woman's Face on the Ten Dollar Bill!

    Do you know who is on a ten dollar bill? If you answered Alexander Hamilton, you are correct...for now. The U.S. Treasury has announced that there will be a change coming in 2020. A woman's face will be featured on the ten dollar bill! The year, 2020, is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. An organization has been petitioning the U.S. Treasury to place a woman's face on the twenty dollar bill for this 100th anniversary. Currently, President Andrew Jackson is on the twenty dollar bill. Due to Jackson's treatment of Native Americans, this particular bill was suggested for the change. An online vote asking people which woman they'd like to see selected, picked Harriet Tubman. The U.S. Treasury will begin asking people which woman they'd like to see on the new ten dollar bill. Trivia: Did you know that the last woman to be on a U.S.paper currency was Martha Washington?

    Suggestions
  • Name 10 famous women in U.S. History. Regroup and list the 3 most named.
  • By law, a person must not be living to be selected for selection for U.S. Currency.What would be 3 characteristics you would use for your selection?
  • Who would be your selection and why?

  • Solar Powered Plane Attempts Around the World Trip!

    An airplane flying around the world may not sound newsworthy, until you learn that the Solar Impulse 2 isn't using ANY fuel. The solar powered plane began it's record attempt to soar into the record books on March 9th. It left from the United Arab Emirates. The plane has now reached leg six of the 12 to complete the journey, having arrived in China. It's wings, longer than that of a Boeing 747, and tail, are covered with over 17,000 solar panels. The journey will take an estimated five months and only has one person, the pilot. Two pilots, Andre Borschberg and Berrand Piccard, of Switzerland, will take turns flying the Solar Impulse 2. Traveling at speeds of 20-90 mph, the most challenging leg begins with the Pacific crossing to Hawaii, about a 5000 mile distance which will take about six days to complete. The next difficult phase will be from Hawaii to Arizona.Previously, Borschberg and Piccard, were the first to flight across the United States in a solar powered plane, back in 2013.

    Discussion Questions
  • The China to Hawaii Pacific crossing will be very difficult. The pilots have trained to take short naps while the plane is on autopilot. Could you sit in a tiny seat for 5-6 days, unable to get up and walk around?
  • What would you tell the world at the completion of this solar powered journey?
  • Why do you think people try to break records?
  • If the around the world flight with solar power is not completed, would you say the attempt was a success or failure? Explain.
  • Photograph Wired.com

    REAL "Caveman" Found!

    A 150,000 year old skeleton of a Neanderthal was not only found inside a cave...it was part of the cave! First found in the Lamalunga Cave,in 1993, in southern Italy, the remains were thought to be that of a present day person. It is suggested that the man fell into a well and got stuck and died.However, recent DNA testing on a piece of bone determined the remaining bones and skull to be that of a "homo neanderthalensis". Scientists say, Altamura Man, has provided the oldest DNA sample ever found. Over the many years, his calcium bones blended with the stalactites and other stone deposits from dripping water coming down into the cave.This "caveman" will not be removed from the site because scientists fear removal will destroy what remains of Altamura Man.

    Suggestions:
  • Pretend you were one of the spelunkers who found the remains. Write a diary of the day and how you felt.
  • Write 3 facts learned from the reading."
  • Write a story pretending you are "Altamira Man". How did you wind up in the cave?

  • Photograph from abc.net.au
    Who would you select?

    UPDATE:4/8/15:The Women on 20s campaign has moved forward. People have voted and the final four names for consideration to replace Andrew Jackson on a twenty dollar bill are Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Wilma Mankiller. You can read a short biography on these four woman at this link:Final Four! After the voting concludes and one of these women is selected, it is hoped that President Obama will consider beginning the process to replace President Andrew Jackson, on the twenty dollar bill. The group, Women on 20s, hopes that by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment,which gave women the right to vote,the change may become a reality. Who would be your selection and why?

    Illustration from Wpclipart.com

    Should all Eligible Votes be Required to Vote? Should it be mandatory to vote in the United States? Some countries actually require their citizens to come out and vote.Those that don't have a good excuse for not voting can be fined! According to the United States Election Project, less than 37% of eligible voters, came out to vote during the last November 2014 election! President Obama spoke the other day that instead of restricting voting, that perhaps, all American citizens should be required to vote on election days.
    Your Thoughts
  • What do you think, should voting be mandatory?Why, why not?
  • What might be a positive result of all eligible voters voting on Election Day?
  • What might be a negative result of all eligible voters voting on Election Day?

  • Elephants to be Phased Out of Circus!

    Elephants have long been part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus but things will be changing by 2018. It's been announced that elephants will be phased out of the circus acts. Many people have been arguing that these animals should not been used for entertainment. The treatment of these creatures has also been at issue. The decision was in response to these concerns. Elephants,who are very intelligent, have been part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus, for 145 years. As the elephants are retired from the show, they will live out the rest of their lives at the Elephant Conservation center, owned by the circus.

    Illustration from wpclipart.com

    Your Thoughts
  • Other animals will still be used in the circus shows, should all animals be banned? Why, Why not?
  • Sea World also has been asked to stop using the killer whaler, should they do so? Why, Why not?
  • Why do you think the circus is "phasing the elephants out" but will still have them perform until 2018?
  • Write a paragraph trying to persuade someone that circus acts and Sea World should not use animals(Marine life). Write a paragraph stating why such animal should have a place in a circus act or marine show.



  • Group Hopes to Change the Face on a Twenty Dollar Bill

    In 2020, it will be the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, giving women in the United States the right to vote. A group think that this would be a great opportunity to have a woman's image placed on the twenty dollar bill by this anniversary date. Currently, Andrew Jackson's portrait is found on a $20 bill. With Jackson's policies towards Native Americans, especially the forced movement from their lands(called the Trail of Tears),with the Indian Removal Act of 1930, it is this bill's image, which Women on $20s seek to change.The group is asking people to vote on one of fifteen women,including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt, to be considered, as a replacement. There is also a petition asking the President to recommend that the US Treasury make such a change. And, if you are wondering, Sacagawea, is currently honored on a dollar coin. Previously, there was a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and Helen Keller's image can be found on one side of the 2003 Alabama quarter.

    Click here to learn more:womenon20s.org
    Questions
  • Which woman might you wish to see honored on a $20 bill? Why?
  • Is there a woman who you'd like to see considered who is not on this list?
  • Read about the Trail of Tears and write a summary. Do you think Andrew Jackson should be honored on the $20 bill?Why,why not. Trail of Tears
    Illustration from Wpclipart.com


    Bill for Not Attending a Birthday Party!

    You're invited to a birthday party and accept the invitation to attend. Sounds like a fun day of going to a ski area and doing lots and lots of tubing and having something to eat. When the day of the party arrives, your parents decided you won't be attending as they have other plans for the day. A few days later, you have a note to bring home from school from the host of the party. Inside, is a bill for about $25, the cost of the ski party. The parents of the birthday child say that all guests were told if they accepted and didn't show up, the fee would still need to be paid, so the parents felt that "no-shows" should have to pay the expense. The five year old boy's parents were very upset about receiving the bill in such a way and said they didn't plan to pay it.

    YOUR THOUGHTS!

  • What do you think?Should the parents of the boy who didn't show up, have to pay the bill?
  • Should the parents have called the boy's parents and not send a note home in the boy's backpack?
  • How would you settle this dispute?
  • ESPN to Use DRONE for the First Time!

    Drones are finding their way into our daily activities. For the first time ESPN will utilize drones in their coverage of the Winter X Games,to be held this week, in Aspen, Colorado. ESPN has gotten permission, from the Federal Aviation Administration, to fly tiny drones over the athletes. The drones,with cameras, will hover above, aside and behind the racers during their the snowmobiling and snowboard events. In other uses, drones are being used to video some football teams' practices and CNN is hoping to soon use drone technology during live news event. Amazon would also like to have the ability to use drones to deliver packages right to your home.

    Questions:
  • How might such drone usage be helpful in our lives?
  • Can you think of negative aspects about drone use?
  • Can you think of why drone use is being carefully monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration?
  • Photograph from digitaltrends.com


    Out of this World Experiment!

    Scientists plan to study two identical twins in an out of this world experiment. Astronaut Scott Kelly, will leave on a space mission lasting one year at the International Space Station. His brother, Mark, who is also an astronaut, will remain on earth. Both will be involved in the same experiments to see the effects that long periods in space may have on the body. They are the only identical twin American astronauts(of the 2.25 million sets of American twins).For future long distance space missions such as Mars,which will take an estimated three years for the round trip, scientists want to study the effect of lack of gravity on human bones, the heart and other organs. Scott will travel to the ISS on March 28th, with another Russian astronaut(called cosmonaut in Russia) named Mikhail Kornienko. It will be the longest space time of any American astronaut.

    Questions
  • Despite the experiments,you would have some "free" time. What would you do for a year in space?
  • What would be three things you'd pack along to bring with you?
  • Other than family and friends, what would be some things you'd miss about being away from Earth?
  • Photograph from nasa.gov


    Orangutan in Argentina Wins Court Case!

    What makes a court in Argentina determining that Sandra has rights newsworthy is that Sandra is an orangutan! Until this ruling, animals were declared things in the country of Argentina. The historic court decision states that twenty-eight year old Sandra is a non-human person and thus, has basic rights. In this case, Sandra has been living at the Buenos Aries' Zoo for twenty years. The Argentina's Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights argued in their petition, that Sandra has been denied her basic rights to freedom. If the court ruling stands and is not appealed, Sandra's right to freedom will mean, she will be moving to a sanctuary to spend the rest of her days. It is thought that such a non-human person ruling would only apply to primates as they have much of the genetic codes with humans.

    Photograph from npr.org

    Time Capsule from 1795 Discovered

    While fixing a leak, workers made an amazing discovery. What is being called the oldest time capsule, found in the United States,has been unearthed under the Golden Dome, at the Massachusetts State House. The 219 capsule, originally made of cowhide,was actually buried by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, back in 1795! It was actually found in the cornerstone of the building, back in 1855. At that time, it was revealed that the capsule contained papers, a Raul Revere plate and coins dating back to the 1600s.After adding some additional artifacts, the capsule was reburied, this time inside a copper box. The historic capsule,now covered with white plaster and having turned green, will first be X-rayed, before opening it. It hasn't yet been determined what will be done with the time capsule.

    Extension Activity:

  • Do you think the time capsule should be reburied after it has been reviewed or should it go on display in a museum? Give a reason for your opinion.
  • If you could add 3 items to the capsule to show events of our current world, what would you place inside?Give a reason for your selected items.
  • Why do you think the time capsule will be x-rayed before opening it?
  • Photograph of the conservator for the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts holding the time capsule from Time.com


    Reindeer Cops?

    Seems Santa isn't the only one that relies on reindeer to get things done.Police in Siberia are thinking of a new way to fight crime...using reindeer! Seems that snowmobiles are no match for chasing crooks in the deep snow and reindeer may be the answer. Reindeer have the ability to see in the dark. Reindeer eyes seen the sun's UV rays reflecting off the snow. Reindeer also have great hooves that cut into ice. Their hooves act like shoeshoes,spreading out as they move! And, they never run out of gas or break down like snowmobiles do. Police are finding that law-breakers using carts pulled by reindeer are getting away from them! A four-legged police transport may be the answer!

    Extension Activity:

  • Pretend you are a reindeer cop and tell about a day in your life. What's going on? What do you do?Etc.
  • Discuss persuasive writing. Write a paragraph trying to convince someone that using reindeer in law enforcement in such a snowy region would be a good idea.
  • Write a persuasive paragraph expressing why you would oppose the idea of using reindeer in law enforcement.
  • Read the story,"How the Reindeer Got Their Antlers", by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Learn about Siberia: Have groups of students find 5 interesting facts about Siberia and share their findings with the class. Have students draw/color a picture of a reindeer. Write FIVE facts you learned about Siberia. thefreeresource.com

  • Fun Reindeer Facts:
  • Reindeer are known as caribou, wild reindeer and reindeer.
  • Male and female reindeer have antlers!
  • With a great sense of smell, a reindeer can find lichen to munch on, 2 ft. beneath the snow. The favorite lichen is called "reindeer moss".
  • Reindeer are very good swimmers!
  • A Reindeer can run at speeds of up to 40 mph.
  • The sound a reindeer makes is a bellow.
  • Like fingerprints, a reindeer's antlers are unique.No two are alike!
  • Photograph from mnn.com
    What Would YOU put in a "Digital Memory Box"?

    A company in Great Britain is hoping to send a robotic vehicle to the Moon and land it on the South Pole of the Moon. Once at the location, the plan is to bore into the lunar surface down about 65 ft., a depth never tried before on the surface of the Moon. The retrieved rock samples would give scientists information on the origin of the moon such as examining rocks that haven't been touched by cosmic radiation, in millions of years. To raise money for the project, the Lunar Mission One, is asking people to contribute "digital memory boxes" which would be placed in the hole, as a type of time capsule. Additionally, the complied digital memory box database would eventually be available for free to anyone to view.The mission is still in the planning stages.

    Illustration from gizmag.com

    Questions
  • What would be three things you'd place on your digital memory box for others to learn about you?
  • Which do you think is best and why? Private companies conducting explorations in space or governments(like NASA) being the main source of missions into space?
  • What are three facts you know about the moon?
  • What is something you would like to learn about the moon?
  • Will SNOW DAYS be a Thing of the Past?

    Here's a little secret. Teachers love snow days, too! And, they may be a thing of the past as schools turn to technology. Imagine, a snow storm and school closed but students still have... virtual classes. It's being tried at a private high school in Minnesota. With virtual classes, students can go online to work on assignments that teachers have posted. Schools must be in session for a specific number of days each year. For most schools, this is at least 180 days. Too many snow days often mean having to make up the days over other breaks. If states approve this alternative virtual school day, such make-up days would not be needed.

    Questions:
  • Which would you rather have, a virtual school day or have to make up the day over other school breaks? Why?
  • Can you see any problems with virtual school days?
  • Staying in Bed...for 70 days?

    Ever have a day when you wished you could stay in bed? Andrew Iwanicki not only is staying in bed for one day but for THREE months! As part of a NASA program to study how bones and muscles react to long periods of weightlessness in space, they have asked for volunteers to stay in bed for 70 days. NASA has actually gotten 54 people to volunteer for this experiment in addition to Iwanicki. No getting out of bed, no going outside, just staying in a bed with your head slightly tilted downward and your feet up, hooked up to different monitors to see how your body is handling "complete bed rest",is what Iwanicki will be doing for about seven more week. There is television and internet available and NASA suggests that participants use the time for achieving goals. One bright side is that the volunteers are paid about $15,000 to lie in bed for this period of time!

    Illustration from Openclipart.org

  • Would you be able to participate in such a study? Why, why not?
  • What would be the most difficult aspect of participating in this study?
  • Watching television and playing video games might get old after a while, what might you decide to do with some of your time?

  • Tallest Building in the United States Opens!

    The tallest building in the United States(and the Western Hemisphere) has opened for business. Built at the site of the original World Trade Towers which was destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the new One World Trade Center has 104 floors and took eight years to build. Standing 1776 ft. tall, the skyscraper will have a ceremony marking its official opening later in the month.

    Photograph from Timesdispatch.com


  • What statement do you think this new building tells the rest of the world?
  • What meaning does the height of the skyscraper have?
  • Write a sentence to describe the new skyscraper.

  • Amazing Jump!

    Google computer scientist Alan Eustace has just broken a record held by Felix Baumgartner for the the highest altitude jump. Eustace used a helium ballon to reach 26 miles above the earth(or about 135,000 ft.) and then...jumped! Wearing a specially designed suit, Eustace hit speeds of 830 mph, actually traveling the speed of sound, in his 15 minute descent back to Earth. Baumgartner, in 2012, jumped from 128,100 ft. As for the amazing jump, Eustace said that he could see the layers of the atmosphere, the darkness of space and that it was an amazing experience.

    photograph from dailymail.co.uk

  • What would you be thinking as you hurled back toward earth in such an altitude jump?
  • What are three character traits of someone such as Eustace or Baumgartner?
  • Write a headline for this news event.
  • Write 3 descriptive sentences to describe your jump.

  • WHOPPER OF A SPIDER!

    The South American Goliath birdeater isn't an itsey bitsey spider. It's the world's largest and it's a whopper. Recently, entomologist(bug scientist) Piotr Naskrecki was walking in the rainforest of Guyana and heard a noise. His flashlight spotted the usually elusive giant arachnid. The size of a small puppy, the spider can have 2 inch long fangs. It also can have a fist size body and its legs are about the size of a child's forearm. Although the giant spider is threatening to look at, its poisonous bite is not harmful to humans. However, as Naskrecki heard, it has an interesting defense. It rubs its back legs onto its body releasing hairs that have sharp barbs on them which can be painful if they reach your body! Naskrecki captured the spider and brought it back to study.
  • Do you think the entomologist should have taken the spider?
  • Pretend you are the spider and tell about your encounter with the entomologist.
  • Write three descriptive words to describe the spider.

  • Photograph from news.yahoo.com

    WOULD YOU LIKE A STAND-UP DESK?

    9/29/2014: Do you like to sit in a chair at a desk at school? Some schools are testing a new type of desk...minus a chair! Schools in both a Texas elementary school and New Jersey elementary school have experimented with chair-less desks. Schools in Great Britain and Australia are also testing whether such desks might encourage learning and help fight obesity. The test desks had a sensor that recorded the amount of steps the students took and thus, the amount of calories they burned up while at the desks during the lessons. About 100-800 calories were burned a day. Studies suggest there is less fidgeting and more focus on lessons with stand-up desks. Stools are available if a student needs to sit for a bit. What do you think of such desks?

  • 1. Would a stand-up desk make you more alert?
  • 2. Do you think younger kids or older kids would best adapt to such stand-up desks?
  • 3. Can you think of any positive aspects of a stand-up desk?
  • 4. Can you think of any negative aspects of a stand-up desk?

  • Photograph from:mynews13.com


    YOU be the Judge: Who Owns a Monkey Selfie?

    8/8/2014: Selfies, everyone seems to be taking them these days,even monkeys. And, a big legal fight is going on over just WHO owns a particular monkey selfie. A wildlife photographer taking pictures of black macaques on the island of Indonesia had his camera swiped by one of the monkeys he was photographing.The monkey took lots and lots of pictures, with its selfie being remarkably clear. It went viral over the internet and one site, Wikipedia posted the photograph without the photographer's permission. The website says that the selfie was in the public domain and not owned by the photographer. The reasoning that non-humans have no rights to ownership. The photographer says the black macaque used his camera, so the photograph belongs to him. Perhaps, the photograph is that of the monkey that took the photograph? If you were the judge deciding this case, how would you rule and why?

    Photograph from brisbanetimes.com.au


    7/28/2014: ICE CREAM made from 3 D Printer!

    If you like ice cream,imagine if you could just "print" some up for yourself! Students at MIT have taken the idea of a 3D printer and made a device that makes soft serve ICE CREAM! And, the ice cream that comes out of the printer can be made into edible treats shapes. Just in the experimental stage at this point, it is hoped that one day soon, you can go to an ice cream store and have your dessert created right there while you wait, in any shape you'd like to have!


    Photograph from pcmag.com
    Check out COOL ICE CREAM FACTS:ICE CREAM FACTS!

    Extension Activities:


    * Write a haiku poem on ice cream.


    * If you had to describe ice cream to an alien from outer space, what would be 3 descriptives you'd use to explain the treat. Write a paragraph about your encounter sharing ice cream with an alien.


    * Draw/color a picture of an ice cream sundae. Exchange your drawing with 3 others and have them write descriptive words to describe what they see. When your drawing is returned, write a paragraph using the comments about your ice cream sundae.


    * There is a saying," A picture is worth a 1000 words. Illustrate/color one of the facts about ice cream which conveys the fact.


    Additional Links:


    Ice Cream and World War 2Read about how Ice Cream helped the Allies in World War 2 and how Mussolini banned ice cream in Italy during the war.


    Buzzle: Ice cream Facts


    7/6/2014: 2014 Tour de France has Begun!

    On July 5th, the Tour de France began and will end on July 27th. It's considered the world's biggest and most exciting bicycling race. Athletes competing in the race will travel 2277 miles during the 22 day race. This year's Tour de France began in England. Cyclists will also travel through parts of Belgium and Spain and end in Paris,France, along the Champs-Elysees. Each day(called stages), a leader will be awarded a yellow jersey(or Maillot Jaune in French). In addition to the yellow jersey, there is a polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber(king of the mountains), a white jersey( the best youngest rider) and a green jersey(best sprinter).The Tour de France began in 1903. Here's an interesting story. Five sheep were fitted with special cameras so that when the 198 cyclists in the Tour de France traveled along part of the course in Great Britain, they could help film the race!
    Extension Activities:
  • 1. Write a diary pretending to be one of the cyclists in the Tour de France. What do you see? Feel? Hear?
  • 2. Try this FREE crossword puzzle on France:France Puzzler!
  • 3. Draw/color a picture of a bicycle. Find 2 cool facts about England, 2 interesting facts about France, 2 fun facts about Belgium and 2 awesome facts about Spain and write these facts on your drawing.
  • 4. Write a headline for the sheepcam being used in England.
  • 5. Locate the countries involved in the Tour de France on a map. FInd the capital cities for each country.
  • Note: Photograph from Dailymail.co.uk

    6/20/2014: Imagine Spending 31 days Under the Ocean!

    Imagine spending 31 days underwater in an underwater habitat the size of a bus. That's what oceanographer,Fabian Cousteau,(yes, his grandpa was Jacques Cousteau) has just completed off the coast of Key Largo. Located about 63 ft.below the surface of the water, Cousteau spent the time aboard the underwater lab called Aquarius, as part of a study of underwater living. Fabian Cousteau broke his famous grandfather's record of 30 days set fifty years ago. The lab had some of the comforts of home including, six bunks, a kitchen,air conditioning AND Wifi so that Cousteau could chat with kids around the world about his adventure. He had some visitors during the underwater stay including several who came to interview Cousteau. In addition to studying underwater living, Cousteau studied coral reefs, fish life and climate change. Cousteau said he spent much of the time looking out the window and loving the view!
    Extension Activities:
  • If you were Fabian Cousteau, what 4 items would you have taken with you to the underwater lab?
  • What would you have missed the most being in the Aquarius for 31 days?
  • Pretend you are Fabian Cousteau and write a diary entry of something you saw outside your window while on board the Aquarius.
  • Learn about a career as a diver and marine conservationist(Pierre-Yves Cousteau,son of Jacque Cousteau)Oceanographer Career

  • Note: Photograph from Bostonherald.com

    5/18/2014: Has the Santa Maria been Discovered?

    Barry Clifford,an underwater explorer, says he thinks he's made an amazing discovery. He believes he has found the wreckage of the Santa Maria. Yes, the boat of Christopher Columbus used on his voyage in 1492 to sail "the ocean blue". The 500 year old ship sank off the coast of the island of Haiti. Resting about 10-15 feet below the surface, it was first discovered in 2003. At the time, there was also 15th century cannon near the wreckage, which has since gone missing. Clifford has used journals from Christopher Columbus to try and get information on sinking of the Santa Maria, on Christmas Day, in 1492. He hopes to bring the ship to the survive in the coming months.
    Thought questions:
  • How do you think exploration changed the world in positive ways? Negative ways?
  • What would be several REAL dangers Columbus and other sailors could face on the seas?
  • What were some of the imagined dangers that sailors believed could happen to them on the seas?
  • What in history might you like to see discovered?
  • Activities:

    1. Draw a sea monster and state three reasons why you think people believed in sea monsters.

    2. Write a diary entry pretending you were a sailor on one of Columbus's ships and tell about one of your days.

    Did You Know:
  • Columbus used his knowledge of an eclipse to scare the natives in Jamaica.
  • Columbus took tobacco and slaves back to the King and Queen of Spain.
  • Columbus brought horses to the new world on his second voyage.
  • Columbus believed there were gold digging ants.
  • All crew took an oath to agree with Columbus that he had found Japan and were close to China!
  • Columbus noticed natives sleeping a "hammocks". It was an idea that became "beds" aboard sailing ships.
  • Photograph from:news.nationalpost.com

    4/30/2014: Replica King Tut Tomb to Open To Help Preserve Real Tomb. What do you think?

    Visitors have had negative effects on the famous tomb of KingTutankhamun,discovered in 1922. All the oohs and ahs of visitors as they walk inside the tomb have caused moisture to form onto the tomb's walls and its paintings. Mold is also growing on the walls. Add to this, body heat and electric lighting are also taking a toll. Remember, the tomb was not meant to be a tourist destination but a burial place for Tutankhamun. Egyptologists think they have come up with a way to help preserve King Tut's tomb...make a replica tomb! This will be the first such construction in the Middle East.Constructed began in 2009 and used high tech laser scanning and 3 D printers to collect data to create an exact copy of the original tomb. It is hoped that visitors will get a similar experience of the tomb without actually going into the 3,300 year old tomb. Unlike the "real" tomb where visitors are kept behind a railing, in the replica tomb, visitors will be able to move around and look at things up close.Currently, to protect King Tut's tomb from continued deterioration, only 160 people are allowed inside each week AND there is a three year waiting list! The idea of creating replica structures is not new. In France, few people are allowed into Lascaux Cave. Instead, a replica cave was created for visitors to enter. The King Tut replica tomb is expected to open in May.
    Question:
  • What do you think of this idea of creating a replica cave? Why?
  • Do you think mummies should be on display in a museum or left in their tombs for tourists to see? Write a persuasive paragraph on your position. Include at least 2 reasons for your position.
  • If you were a mummy, what are 5 things you'd pack away for the afterlife. Why would you place these items in your tomb?
  • Did you know?
  • The oldest mummies haven't been found in Egypt but in Chile and Peru?
  • A mummified lion was found in Egypt!
  • A mummified gerbil(with some food for the afterlife) was found in Egypt.
  • During the mummy making process, the brain was thought to be of no value and thrown away.
  • The heart, believed to be the center of intelligence and caring, was wrapped and replaced back into the mummy. Other organs were saved in special containers called canopic jars.
  • King Tut's tomb was found to have licorice root, watermelon seeds and a box with underwear!
  • The mummy of Pharaoh Ramsees 2 has a passport! It was required when it went from Egypt to France.
  • Extension Activity:
  • Write a day in the life of a mummy on display in a museum. What do you hear? See? Smell? Feel?
  • Learn about mummies and specifically King Tut with this fun/informative play:King Tut Play!

    Note:Photograph from: Ft.com

    4/18/2014: What's YOUR favorite Number?

    A recent poll asked the question, "What is your favorite number?" The response with the most votes-the number 7. The number 7 is also MY favorite number(with 5 being a close second). Got me thinking of all the things that have the number 7 related to them. Here is my list. You may want to ask your student this question and then brainstorm all the different things THEY can think of that have to do with the number 7. Might be fun to ask another question about numbers, "What is your least favorite number?" I think I would respond with the number 1. As Three Dog Night once sang,"One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do." * Ask students to give a reason for these selection of their favorite and least favorite numbers.
  • 7 wonders of the ancient world
  • 7 dwarfs in Snow White
  • 7 continents
  • 7 days of the week
  • Teachers see larger list at Photograph from nmfs.noaa.gov

    3/26/2014: Plastic Water Bottles

    Almost 50 billion(yes BILLION) plastic water bottles are thrown away each year! An edible gelatinous balloon may be just the answer to this growing problem. Called Ooho,the sphere shaped containers are made from a brown algae. Researchers say the membrane blobs can be made in different sizes and that even the labels would be made from rice paper. With a double lining of membrane, the labels would be placed between the layers so no glue would be needed. The current design requires you biting into the sphere to drink the water.And, if you don't wish to EAT the water container, it is biodegradable.

  • What do you think about this water container?
  • What might be a question you'd have to ask about the design?
  • About how many plastic water bottles do YOU use a week?
  • Give 2 reasons why people use plastic water bottles?

  • Fun Facts:
  • Did you know that the USA uses the most bottled water containers?
  • Did you know that only one out of six plastic water bottles is recycled?
  • It is estimated that the average American uses 167 plastic water bottles a year.
  • Scientists say it takes about 700 years for a plastic bottle to begin to decompose.
  • Photograph from gizmodo.com

    3/4/14: Time Travel....Where would you go?

    Time travel. Wouldn't it be amazing if one day people actually could travel back in time to witness historic events? It got me thinking, if you could take a trip back in time, what historic event would you like to see? I think being at Kitty Hawk, on December 17, 1903, and witnessing Wilbur and Orville make their historic flight would be pretty interesting. On a personal historic event, I'd love to travel back to see my grandmother's family confectionary shop in Porrentruy, Switzerland, and go inside to taste some of their treats(such as their eclairs). Three years ago, I went to see the building(which is still there) and walked the cobble street where my grandma walked as a young woman. It was really an amazing feeling! Today, the store front has been changed and it's a tavern, but the upper levels are still the same despite about 100 years!

    What historic event and personal event might you like to use time travel to witness?

    2/22/14: In the News: Model Boat Travels 3000 Miles!

    Sixth grade students at the Morristown-Beard School,Morristown, in New Jersey, launched a 5 ft. long model boat into the Atlantic Ocean. On board the craft was a GPS tracking device.The students also placed their names on the bottom of the boat and a photograph as well as a message in several languages. Part of a geography project, the students watched the location of their boat,called the Crimson Tide, as it made its way into the Gulf Stream. Fourteen months later, the ship has gone nearly 3000 miles and arrived at the English Channel island of Guernsey! It was here that it was found by a fisherman. Covered in barnacles, the boat had lost its mast and a waterproof capsule. The container with items including a school tee-shirt, thumb drive with messages and more photographs, and even some money, were lost during the Crimson Tide's voyage. It is hoped that with a new sail and battery for the GPS, the ship can be relaunched with it maybe, returning back to this side of the Atlantic!

    Photograph from BBC.co.uk
    Extension Activities:
  • After reading this news short, pretend you are the Crimson Tide. Tell about a day during your travels. What did you see? Hear? Feel? as you bobbed in the Atlantic Ocean?
  • Read about the island of Guernsey.VisitGuernsey.com Draw a travel poster for the island including 5 facts learned about Guernsey.
  • Learn about the English Channel:worldatlas.com Use the map and do some measurements learning about distances between several cities.
  • Draw a picture of a boat. What would be 7 items you'd place in a boat that might go across the ocean to a distance shore? What would you want the person who found the boat to learn about you and your culture?
  • 2/11/14: Presidents' Day Weekend. Learn Some Fun Presidential Trivia:

    Check out this free web quest on Presidential trivia-lots of interesting facts!Presidential Trivia Webquest

    There have been many polls taken on the topic of our greatest presidents. The results of a poll taken in 2000 by ABC News asking people who they felt was the greatest American president:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • Another poll taken in 2007,listed the following presidents as our top three:

  • George Washington
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Thomas Jefferson

  • Still another poll taken in 2011, listed the following as our greatest presidents:

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Bill Clinton

  • Who would be your top three greatest Presidents? For what reason would you rank your top three?

    Which president in history, do you think is mentioned the most?

    What would be 3 issues that would be important to you if you were president of the United States?

    What are three character traits you think a president should have and why?



    Winter GAMES Are Coming and Women Athletes Will Make History!

    Since 1924, ski jumping has been one of the exciting sports at the Winter Games. However, until 2014, only men were able to compete in the sport. This year, history will be made when women will be allowed to participate in ski jumping for the very first time! It took female athletes, including American Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome(and other women athletes from around the world), to sue the International Olympic Committee for gender discrimination to get the organization to change their ruling on the issue. Now, world female ski jumpers such as Sara Takanashi(Japan), Jessica Jerome(USA), Atsuko Tanaka(Canada),Carina Vogt(Germany), Irina Avvakumova(Russia), Sarah Hendrickson(USA and 2013 World Cup Champ) and Lindsey Van(USA), will be athletes to watch beginning on February 11th,when many of these women and more will be competing in ski jumping at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia!

    Fun Fact: Women have been ski jumping for over 150 years,beginning in the country of Norway.The very first official recorded woman ski jumper was Paula Lamberg, an Austrian countess, who jumped in 1911. Interestingly, women who did the sport did so in LONG skirts!

    Extension Activities:

    A. Think of three descriptive adverbs to describe your feelings as you ski down a 10 story ramp going about 60 mph just before taking flight into the air.

    B. Write a paragraph describing your first ski jump at the winter games.

    C. The sport of ski jumping began in the country of Norway. What do you know about Norway? Write a fact about the country(note:not that they started the sport of ski jumping). Look up Norway at this link:Timeforkids.com Write a travel postcard pretending to visit Norway and write 3 specific things learned about Norway in your postcard.

    D. Women athletes worked to get the IOC to change their ruling on the ban of women competing in ski jumping at the olympic games. Is there an issue that you feel strongly about? What is it? Why do you think this needs to be changed in some way?


    Groundhog Day is Sunday,February 2nd


    It's a time when people look to a groundhog to find out whether or not we will be having six more weeks of winter. The idea dates back hundreds of years when people looked to hibernating animals such as badgers, hedgehogs and bears to see when they might wake up from their winter sleep.

    According to the tradition, if the animals saw its shadow, winter would last several more weeks. If it didn't see it's shadow, spring would be soon arriving.

    When Europeans, especially the Germans, came to the United States, they brought the tradition. The groundhog became the animals of choice as it hibernated and looked something like the European hedgehog. Groundhog Day started back in the 1880s with the first official celebration on February 2, 1887. The most famous groundhog weather forecaster is Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney, PA. On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil, who lives at the Punxsutawney Library is taken to Gobbler Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on the stage near where hundreds have gathered. At 7:25 if Punxsutawney Phil comes out to make his weather prediction. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring is on its way!

    Did you know that the groundhog, also called woodchuck, is a relatives of the squirrel? Learn some additional Fun facts about groundhogs at this link:groundhog.org


    Extension activities:

  • Pretend you are Punxsutawney Phil.Tell about your big day. What did you hear? What did you see? How did you feel being in the limelight?
  • Learn about the country of Germany:Germany

  • Read more about the groundhog. Draw/color a picture and write 5 facts learned about the groundhog( in complete sentences).animals.nationalgeographic.com

  • The Groundhog isn't the only creature in nature that is used to help forecast weather.Can spiders predict a sunny day? My mother-in-law told me that if you see spiders hanging up their wash(making webs) early on a summer morning, it's a sign of a beautiful summer day. See chimney smoke going straight up on a winter's day? Another sign of nice weather. But, if you see ants building mounds, it's a sign of rain. Same with birds roosting on electrical wires, another sign of coming rain. There are lots of weather folklore. Being observant to nature, can help you predict the day's weather, without a weatherman. Illustrate a weather folklore:weatherwizkids

  • World's Oldest Public Toilet...for dinosaurs found in Argentina!


    Scientists say they have found what is being called the "world's oldest public toilet"...for dinosaurs. Thousands of fossilized droppings(called coprolites)have been uncovered in the country of Argentina,in a region called La Rioja Province. The dino poo is from a dinosaur called Dinodontosaurus, a herbivore(plant eater) that lived about 240 million years ago which was somewhat like the rhinos of today.


    It is thought that even dinosaurs didn't want to "go" where they lived and ate. And, scientists think there was another reason for a common toilet area. It made those creatures wandering into the toilet territory think that with so many droppings, there must be a large herd of dinosaurs in the area...and, they'd better keep on moving!


    Studying the droppings will provide information on the diet and possible diseases of the dinosaurs that left their poo behind.


    Extensions:

    1. Find three facts from the news article.

    2. Write a paragraph pretending to be the scientists that made the discovery. What were you doing? What made you think you had found dinosaur droppings?

    3. Write a headline for this news story.

    4. Write 2 Factual statements. Write 2 Opinion statements. Exchange with another students to determine which are the Fact statements and which are the Opinion statements.

    5. See a drawing of a dinodontosaurus at this link:dinosaurs.about.com

    Write 3 descriptive sentences. Discuss metaphors and similes. Use these in your descriptions.This link has information on metaphors and similes:knowgramming.com


    Note: Photograph from news.nationalpost.com




    Mutt Everest 2013


    Rupee, an 11 month old pooch, has done something no dog has done before. He has climbed to the base camp of Mt. Everest with his owner, Joanne Lefson. Called Expedition Mutt Everest 2013, the journey was to create awareness to homeless animals and to promote adoption. Joanne found Rupee abandoned in a city in India. The pair trekked through snow and crossing old bridges and wet paths to reach 17,598 ft. in 13 days. Joanne said that Rupee pulled her along when she tired and loved playing in the snow.Photograph from News.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews


    Extension Activities:


    1. Pretend you are Rupee, tell about a day as you and Joanne trekked up Mt. Everest. What did you see? Hear? Think about?


    2. Create an awareness poster on homeless animals and how people can help.


    3. Learn about Mt. Everest:Check out my informative web quest on Mt. Everest. Extension activities including comprehension questions included.Mt-Everest-Trekking-up-Mt-Everest-WebquestExtension-Activities





    Surfing a Whopper of a Wave!


    I can't imagine surfing down such a whopper of a wave!


    Carlos Burle has surfed into the record books by hanging ten down a wall of water estimated to be 100 ft. tall! The beach at Nazare, Portugal,Praia do Norte, is famous for their REALLY big waves and Burle hit the jackpot thanks to the St. Jude storm that had recently hit the European area. Currently, the record for surfing the biggest wave, was done by Garret McNamara in 2011 when he caught a 78 ft. wave in the same area. People on the shore watching say that when these massive waves crash onto the shore,it's like that of an earthquake, causing the ground under the feet to shake. Guinness World Records still needs to certify the measurement before they can announce officially that Burle indeed has surfed an amazing mountain of water!


    *Pretend you are Burle, what would you be thinking as you began your descent down the wave?


    *Write a headline for the news story.


    *What safety gear would you wear?




    Teaching Kids that they have a history using their Favorite Childhood Toy!

    When you think of your childhood, does one toy or stuffed animal or other item, comes to mine?  Mine was Pinkie. Pinkie is beige(so go figure the name I chose as a little girl). My mom had to sew her eyes and nose back on a number of times and the stuffing got squashed when I dropped it in the street and a car ran after it before my dad heroically rescued Pinkie for me.


    In the beginning of the school year, I'd take Pinkie from her protective plastic bag resting in a memory box in the attic, bring her to class and start an activity to show kids that each of them has their own history. My 6th graders usually giggled seeing me holding my favorite childhood toy but they soon got into the activity.

    Questions to Ask:

    A. What was YOUR favorite childhood toy?

    B. Why was it so important to you?

    C. Who gave it to you?

    D. Describe what it looked like.

    E. What became of your favorite Childhood toy?


    Now, take the information you wrote down and write a paragraph on you favorite childhood toy.


    Many of my 6th graders that still had their favorite childhood toy asked if they could bring it to class to show as they volunteered to read their paragraphs.





    Pumpkin Smashes the World Record 2013


    A pumpkin grown by Tim and Susan Mathison, Napa, California has smashed the record for its mammoth size. The giant pumpkin weighed in at 2032 pounds. Grown in 105