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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.

Should you be able to have your cell phone in school? Some countries are passing laws banning students from using their cell phones during the school day. China, France and The Netherlands have passed such restrictions. Great Britain is planning to ban cell phones in school. The United Nations has also given their opinion with the recommendations that students should not have smartphones in the classrooms.

Your Turn:

  • What do you think of having such restrictions?
  • How does YOUR school deal with the issue of cell phones in the classroom?
  • What might be a reason you think it would be a good idea to ban cell phones in the classroom?
  • What might be a reason you could argue that cell phones have a value in the classroom? Photograph from Pixabay

    Do you like chicken? Would you eat chicken grown in a lab from cells? The U.S. government recently approved the sale of lab-grown chicken. Called "cultured" meat or "cell-based" meat, the United States is the second country to approve such grown chicken for sale. The country of Singapore was the first to approve such lab grown chicken. It takes only a few weeks for the fast growing cells to become sheets or clumps of chicken that can be made into nuggets, shaped into cutlets or made into sausages. Due to the cost to make lab grown chicken, it will probably not be in your local store for some time. Instead, it will be available at restaurants.

    Photograph from Pixabay
    Can you think of any positive aspects of meat created in a lab?
  • Can you think of any negative aspects of lab grown meat?
  • Would you eat lab-grown meat? Why or why not?

  • Some museums in Great Britain are now using the word "mummified person" in place of the word "mummy" saying the term adds more humanity to the human remains. What do you think of changing the word?Also, what do you think of mummies being placed on display for people to view? Would you want your body to be displayed in a museum?

    Photograph from FirstPost

    A large amount of eggs were recently found in India. The eggs, 256, belonged to dinosaurs, specifically, titanosaurs! Laid millions of years in the past, scientists say the fossilized eggs may have been preserved when volcanic lava covered the eggs. Scientists uncovered 92 clutches(nests) of dinosaur eggs in an area of central India, called the Dhar.Photographs from BBC

    There are some places on the Earth where the internet doesn't exist or is very spotty. Do you utilize the internet each day? What are some of the things you use the internet? Photograph from Pixabay

    If you've seen a Jurassic Park movie over the years, you know what happened when they brought back dinosaurs! A team of scientists announced they will attempt to bring back the extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Extinct for almost 100 years, the coyote-like marsupial lived in Australia, Tasmania(hence the name) and New Guinea. Using DNA from a very close relative (the dunnat) and DNA from the Tasmanian tiger, the scientists hope to recreate an "almost" Tasmanian tiger. Photograph from thoughtco.

    Your Turn:

  • What do you think of this idea? Should extinct animals be brought back?

  • What is an extinct creature you would like to see brought back?

  • Click here for a list of some extinct creatures:Natgeokids

    Love this photograph! At the Natural History Museum in London, England, the giant T. rex has gotten into the holiday spirit with the donation of a large, very large holiday sweater. The knitted sweater took 100 hours to make. Photograph from BBC.

    Your Turn:
  • Pretend you are the T.Rex and tell what you think about your sweater.

  • What do you hear as comments from visitors?

  • Leave your shoes at home? A school in Perth, Australia, says that next year, as a pilot program, kids in elementary school will not need to wear shoes in school. It is thought that walking barefoot helps to to develop a young child's feet, knees, ankles and hips. Others says that there is no evidence that walking barefoot, especially in a school, is beneficial.

    Photograph from pixabay


    What do you think? Would you walk barefoot in school if you were allowed to do so? Why, why not?

    A recent study conducted in Israel and Spain reviewed 171,000 students and their reading comprehension ability. The findings were that if you want to learn something, and make it STICK, paper information,(a book) is better than reading something online. Researchers suggest that reading from a screen makes for faster skimming of the material where reading from print results in deeper reading concentration. The smaller print and the scrolling of information on a computer device also prevents the reader from absorbing the information long term. Researchers also found that fiction and shorter reading passages are about the same for retention. Which do you think helps you learn better, printed materials or screen? WHY?

    Photograph from LiveScience

    A wild merino sheep was found wandering around in a forest in Australia who REALLY needed a trim. Not having had a haircut in years, the sheep, nicknamed BAARACK, could hardly see with the growth covering its eyes. Brought to the Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary, Baarack was given a badly needed shearing. It is estimated that nearly 70 pounds of wool were removed! Pretend you are Baarack and tell about a day in your life.

    In the recent years, the idea of animals living in captivity to entertain humans have come into questions. Some circuses have closed over the issue of having live performing animals. One circus in Germany has moved to hologram animals. Marine parks, too, have had to rethink the use of killer whales and dolphins living in captivity to entertain humans. A animatronic company has created a life-like dolphin which may be the answer to future marine parks. The 550 pound robot can move and make sounds of a real dolphin. With a battery, the 8 1/2 ft. long bottlenose dolphin robotic, can swim and do activities for up to 10 hours. The skin is made from silicone.


  • 1.What do you think of removing real animals from circuses and marine parks?
  • 2. Would you go to a marine park to see a robot dolphin? Why or Why Not?

  • A new law is being proposed in the country of Germany. All pet owners would be required to take their dogs for a walk twice a day. In addition, each walk would be for at least one hour under the Hundeverordnung(Dogs Act). Many people say such a law effecting the approximately 9.4 million dogs in Germany would be almost impossible to enforce. Others say exercise depends on the age of the dog. An older dog would have difficulty with such daily exercise requirements. When asked to clarify, the lawmaker, proposing the law, said it would mainly apply to those dogs in kennels.


  • What do you think of this proposed bill and why?

  • Did you know that a number of our military bases are named for Confederate soldiers? A senate committee has voted to look into changing the names. It is thought that those that wished to fight against our country do not deserve to be honored. Others say that it is history, or heritage, and it is wrong to erase the names of these men from places of honor.

    Your Turn:
  • 1. Should the losing side be honored with statues, schools and military bases?
  • 2. How do you think African Americans feel about going into a school or onto a military base named for someone that fought and died to keep their ancestor's slaves?
  • 3. Who do you think might be people to rename such military bases?
  • 4. There are also statues of Confederate men honored in the Congress Hall of statues. Each state gets to send two statues to represent their states. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, says it is time to remove all Confederate statues from the Congress. What do you think? WHO are the two people from your state that are in theThe National Statuary Hall Collection?

    People on a recent American Airlines flight from Michigan to California saw a very unusual support animal aboard the plane. Fred, is a mini horse. Potty trained, Fred, sporting a turquoise outfit and black, with white trimmed booties, was seated in first class with his owner. Fortunately, being in a bulkhead seating section, so there wasn't anyone in front of them, gave Fred a bit more hoof space . Other support animals have included a pot belly pig, squirrel, duck, turkey and even a kangaroo! Yes, a kangaroo. The federal government is thinking about revising their guidelines, allowing only dog support animals in the future.

  • What do you think of a support horse or any other animals being on an airplane?

  • What might be the problem for passengers of support animals?
  • What would be a support animal you would like to bring on an airplane? WHY?

  • Photograph from

    The organization called Greenpeace has a pretty scary monster that they are using to create awareness to plastic. The "plastic monster" stands 15 ft. Tall and is made from, as you would assume, from plastic trash. Greenpeace has brought the monster to the state of Florida which hasn't passed laws, as other states have done, to ban single use plastic bags. The group is specifically targeting the food chain called Publix which they say has not supported such plastic bans.

    Your turn:

  • Do you use reusable bags when you go shopping?

  • Do you think a plastic monster might cause attention in a positive way to bring about change in states such as Florida?

  • What is something you would say to encourage people to use less plastic?

  • Photograph from

    It's lunchtime. Time to seek out your friends and enjoy lunch. For some, it's a time when the stomach gets into knots, wondering who you will find to sit with in the cafeteria. A private K-12 school in Wisconsin has started assigned seating for their eight person round tables. The seating will always be changing.
    Your Turn:

  • What might be the positive aspects of assigned seating?

  • What might be the negative aspects of assigned seating?

  • What is YOUR opinion on assigned lunchroom seating?

  • Photo from the

    Would you WEAR your chair? A company has developed a "wearable chair" that attaches to your rear end. While walking, the aluminum legs hangs behind you. A pad is also clipped around your waist. When you need to take a break and sit, the device turns into a chair! Developers say the device also helps with back pain.

    Your Turn!

  • First thoughts on the wearable chair?

  • Would YOU use such a device?

  • Can you think of possible uses of a wearable chair?

  • Should Helium Balloons be Banned?

    Have you ever released a helium filled balloon into the sky? Have you sent up a birthday balloon, a balloon in memory of a loved one or a balloon with a message attached in hopes someone will find it and contact you?

    Some people think helium balloons should be banned. The helium balloons eventually fall and end up cluttering the land, waters and harming wildlife. Balloons bobbing in the ocean are mistaken for food and swallowed by marine life. Other wildlife get tangled in the strings attached to the balloons. It is estimated that helium balloons rank 6th in debris harmful to marine life. Additionally, released balloons that eventually find their way onto a tree branch detract from the beauty of the tree. Too many balloons in the sky could also be a danger to air traffic.

    Another reason for a ban calling to end all helium balloons is that the gas, helium, is becoming scare. Once it is used up, there is no way to create more helium. It is a non-renewable resource. Many feel that the remaining Earth’s helium should be used for more important uses, industrial, medical and scientific. For example, did you know that MRI scans to help detect tissue and organ damage, use helium as a cooling agent for the machine? Some other uses of helium include uses in supersonic wind tunnels and satellite instruments. Helium is also combined with oxygen for divers to use in their air tanks.

    Some people are calling for bans on helium balloons. Some states including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona, New York , Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Rhode Island are listening to the call to rethink the release of helium balloons in the air, trying to passing legislation to ban or limit such balloon releases. California hasn’t allowed foil balloons to be released into the air since 1990. Florida and Connecticut restrict the number of balloons that can be released. Other groups are making the decision to limit their use of helium balloons. An example is Clemson University in South Carolina. At each of their home football games, thousands of helium filled balloons were released. The practice was stopped in 2018 when environmental groups questioned the practice.

    People concerned about the environment in other countries such as Great Britain are also debating the issue of releasing balloons into the sky. Australia, is also establishing new environmental laws to ban such balloon use.

    What do YOU think of this issue?

    Photograph from

    Did you know that of the 5000 statues nationwide, only 400 are of women? If you walk through Central Park, in New York City, you will come upon 22 statues of famous MEN. Not one statue is of a woman, except for statues of fictitious Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland. A group of women want to have a woman statue added to Central Park- a REAL woman who made a contribution in history. Specifically, TWO women will be added for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote(2020). Statues of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are to be added. Additionally, at Statuary Hall, at the U.S. Capital, there are two statues for each state on display. Only nine of the one-hundred statues are of women. The state of Kansas is changing one of their statues to honor Amelia Earhart. Things don't change unless someone decides a change is needed.

    Your Turn
  • What is something you might like to change?
  • Find out which two statues represent YOUR state. Who might be a woman from your state to honor with a statue?
  • Why do you think women aren't represented with statues in our country?(5000 with only 400 female statues)
  • What is ONE fact you know about Amelia Earhart?

  • Do you like using glitter? Did you know that glitter is made from micro plastics? There is a movement to ban glitter because it is harmful to our environment. Marine life and birds have been found with glitter in their bodies.The tiny plastic particles look like food to marine life. It is hoped that people will consider using glitter that is more environmentally friendly.

    Photograph from

    YOUR Turn:

  • Did you know that glitter is made from micro plastics?
  • After reading this, do you think you will use less glitter? Why or Why not?

  • Scientists are wondering how a body of a humpback whale found itself in the Amazon jungle! About 26 ft. long, the young whale was discovered by a group of conservationists after spotting a number of vultures circling the area in northern Brazil. What might be your idea as to how the humpback whale was found in this location?

    Photograph from

    Illustration from

    A company in Russia wants to advertise in space. Using tiny satellites(cubists) that reflect light, StartRocket, wants to launch the satellites to about 280 miles above the earth. The advertisements created would be beamed to Earth and appear in the night sky. The idea of space ads came from an orbiting art project called the "disco ball" satellite that orbited the Earth for about two months in 2018. Some say that the satellites would just be more "space junk" added to the already 500,000 pieces of materials the U.S. Department of Defense tracks orbiting the planet. Others say that the space billboards would create light that would interfere with astronomers scanning the night sky.

    Your Turn:
  • What do you think of this idea? Would you want to look up at the stars and see billboards advertising soda, cars or clothing?

  • Do you have a birth mark? Do you have a scar? Do you have some other type of facial disfigurement? An organization called "Changing Faces" wonders why villains are often depicted in movies and television shows with facial scars. They ask whether facial birth marks, scars, etc, are things that we want to equate with evil? The organization has started a campaign called "I am Not Your Villain"". It is hoped that the campaign will bring awareness and change how movies and television shows depict villains.

    Your Turn:

  • What do you think?

  • Kids have been cleaning their schools for many years in the country of Japan. Another country, Singapore has recently begun having students responsible for some of their schools' cleaning. Now, a school in Great Britain is trying out the idea. Not only does it save money and time for some of the custodial personnel, the bigger thought is kids cleaning their own classes create more respect for their own school and environment. The elementary school in Devon has purchased a number of vacuum cleaners and kids are taking turns with clean up, vacuuming their classrooms.

    Your Turn:

  • 1. Do you think students might be a bit more watchful of how they handle trash and their classrooms, if THEY had to clean up the messes made?
  • 2. Do you think this is a good or bad idea? Why, why not?

  • Columbus Day is coming in October. Yet, some states have decided that instead of honoring Columbus on this day, to call the day "Indigenous Peoples’ Day"". Columbus never actually landed on the mainland of North America, instead, arriving at several islands in the Caribbean (also part of North America). Additionally, Columbus didn't "discover" the Americas, native Americans had long been living on the lands. He may have discovered the lands for the Europeans, but don't say this to those who honor Leif Erikson (October 9th) with arriving in Newfoundland hundreds of years prior to Columbus. Additionally, some say that he was a conqueror who enslaved native peoples he met and should not be honored because of this. Currently, about 70 cities in the United States and several states have renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. San Francisco, CA, this month just became another city to do so. >/p>

    What do YOU Think?

  • What do you think of this topic?
  • Which name do you think this holiday should be called and why?
  • Which groups might be upset with the changing of the name for the holiday?
  • Which groups might be pleased with such a name change?

  • Photograph from oddity central

    When high school students, in a school in China, returned after vacation, they noticed something missing in the cafeteria...chairs! As part of an experiment to get kids to focus more on their studies, the chairs were removed and students are eating their lunches standing by tables. It is thought that the students won't spend their entire lunch talking and wasting study time if there aren't chairs to make them feel more comfortable. The school feels that most of the students finish their lunch in about ten minutes and just waste the rest of their lunch hour. It is hoped that the students will decide to leave the cafeteria and use the rest of their lunch for studying. What do you think of this idea?

    Photograph from

    Using drone technology, a previously unknown Amazon tribe has been discovered in the Brazilian jungle, near the Peru border. It is estimated that there are still thousands of people living in isolation in the Amazon forests. The newly discovered tribe, isolated from the world, still used spears and sticks. There was also an ax seen with a stone blade tied to a piece of wood. The drone also noticed canoes made from hollowed-out tree trunks and there was an aerial shot of a thatched hut. The tribe appears to have had no contact with the outside world and the men seen walking by the drone that flew overhead, didn't seem to notice it. It is estimated that there are approximately 100 such tribes living in isolated parts of the world. Do you think these indigenous people would change if they had contact with the outside world? Why, why not. If you came across such people, would you give them anything from your culture? Why, why not?

    A BIG YUCk to this story!

    Egyptian burial chamber with a large sarcophagus was recently found in Egypt. Inside the sarcophagus were the remains of several skeletons. The remains are in a pool of liquid. A group of people have signed a petition to be allowed to drink the red liquid! Yes, you read correctly. For some reason, the 2000 year old liquid is believed to have magical powers. Scientists disagree. It is believed that sewer leakage got inside the black sarcophagus and that those wanting to drink the the liquid mixed with carbonated water(sarcophagus soda) are foolish.

    Your Turn

  • 1. What do you think of this news story?

  • 2. Would you believe over 10,000 people wanted to get the antiquities ministry to allow them to drink the liquid? Saying the "juices are not an elixir for life", but sewage water, they will not allow the request. Do you think that the minister did the correct thing to say NO to the petition? Why, Why not?

  • Photograph from Egyptian Antiquities Ministry.

    Such wonderful news that all 12 boys and their soccer coach were rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand, where they had been trapped for more than two weeks! Imagine being with little food, perched on a ledge, in the dark, with water blocking your escape. The only way out was a dangerous route using divers and being underwater through narrow passageways with water so murky, you couldn't see anything. Add to this, most of the boys didn't know how to swim. It was a heroic group of people that were able to successfully complete the rescue. Sadly, one of the rescue divers died trying to help the boys get of of the flooded cave.

    Illustration from


  • What is the first food you'd want to eat?
  • What is the first thing you'd want to do(after eating)?
  • What was the worst thing that you would imagine facing being trapped in the cave?

  • There could be a sixth branch of the U.S. Military. President Trump wants to add a Space Force. There are currently five branches of the armed forces(Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard). The last branch added was the Air Force, back in 1947. At this time, issues about space are under the U.S. Air Force. A Space Force would have to be approved by Congress,where there currently isn't overwhelming support for a Space Force.

    Your Turn
  • What do you think of a "Space Force"?
  • What might be something a Space Force could be responsible for doing?
  • Why do you think members of Congress might not wish to add another branch of the Armed Forces?

  • The Boy Scouts of America is making a big change. They are opening their programs to girls,beginning this coming summer. Because of this, the Boys Scouts is changing its name to Scouts. Their new campaign is "Scout Me In"". Not all are happy with this change, especially, the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scout organization, which was founded two years after the Boy Scouts, believe they are the first choice for girls who wish to get involved in scouting.

    Your Turn

  • 1.What do you think of this news story?
  • 2.Which organization would you prefer to join and why?
  • Illustration of Boy Scout Statue from Washington Post

    A biscuit is going up for sale. It is 213 years old and believed to be the world's oldest ship biscuit. It's been in the family of a sailor from the HMS Defense, a ship which in 1805 participated in the Battle of Trafalgar. It is estimated that the biscuit, known as "hard tack"", will sell for over $3000.

    Your Turn
  • 1. Would you pay that amount for an old biscuit?
  • 2. Pretend you are the biscuit and tell a day in your life waiting to be auctioned to the highest bidder.
  • 3. Why do you think someone would be willing to pay that much for the biscuit?

  • Photograph from

    A "hotel" with an out of this world view will begin welcoming guests beginning in 2022. Actually, the hotel will be in space, about 200 miles above the planet! The Aurora Station will be launched in 2021 with hopes to have guests the following year. The "first luxury hotel in space" will have a capacity for a crew of two and up to four guests. The hotel, the idea of Orion Span,will orbit the earth for 12 days at a time. Guests will have live-stream viewing with those back on earth, lots of zero gravity flying time and will be able to particulate in research experiments during their stay. Costs for such a stay would be around $800,000 a NIGHT for a total of about $10 million. You can already make a reservation!

    Illustration from OrionSpan

    Your TURN

  • If you had the money, would you make a reservation?
  • What is something of value that you would take along on the trip?
  • What would be the most exciting aspect of being at the Space Hotel?

  • With the recent school shooting, there is talk that teachers should carry guns in the classroom. What do you think of this idea? Would this make you feel safer? Would it upset you to know there was a gun in the classroom? In one school in Pennsylvania, the superintendent announced that 5 gallon buckets of rocks would be placed in the classrooms. The large rocks would be there to hurl at an armed attacker who may come into the room. What do you think of this idea? Do YOU have some ideas on how to make you school safer?

    Donald Trump says that he wants to stop funding the International Space Station by 2024 and have it be funded by private companies. Since 2000, there have been continuous astronauts aboard the ISS, a laboratory in space. As of this month, there are currently six astronauts aboard. At one time, NASA was responsible for all our space activities.

    What do you think?

    Photograph from

    About 18 years ago, very few people ventured to the continent of Antarctica. Things have really changed. Last year, more than 45,000 visited the continent by way of cruise ships or private chartered flights to see icebergs,penguins and vast areas of ice and snow. Some visitors enjoy kayaking, glacier camping and there is even suggestions of adding waterskiing and paragliding as activities for visitors to do while visiting the driest, coldest and windiest place on earth!

    Your Turn!

  • What do you think the negative impact of such visitors to Antarctica could have?
  • Can you think of any positive impacts of such visitors to Antarctica?

  • Photograph from

    The Winter Olympics are coming to the country of South Korea in February. There is a possibility that the country of North Korea may be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Games. If, so, Senator Lindsey Graham, of SC, says the United States may NOT participate. He says that the games should not allow a country that is hostile toward its neighbors and who has threatened the United States. Graham says that allowing North Korea to attend the games is giving "legitimacy to the most illegitimate regime on the planet." With the ancient games, which began in Greece, wars actually stopped during the competition of athletes. What do you think of Senator Graham's comments?
    You Turn:
  • 1. What do you think of Senator Graham's comments? Do you think countries should be banned from the Olympic games if they are hostile towards other nations?
  • 2. What might be a positive result from allowing all nations who wish to participate in the games, be able to do so?
  • 3. What do you think is the most important reason to hold Olympic games?
  • 4. State ONE fact you might know about the country of North Korea.
  • 5. State ONE fact you might know about the country of South Korea.
  • 6. How would you feel if you were an athlete attending the Winter Olympics? How would you feel if you were an athlete told that the USA would not participate in the games?
  • 7. Which winter sport is your most favorite to watch during the winter olympic games?

  • The importing of elephant trophies has been banned in the United States for several years. Remains of elephants called "trophies" include elephant tusks,heads and feet. Now, President Trump wants to reverse the ban and allow such trophies to be brought into the United States from the African countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Elephants are endangered and it is feared that such a reversal will threaten the species' existence since more people will be able to hunt elephants and bring their "trophies" home. The US government agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that lifting the ban will help to protect the species as money collected for animal hunters will go towards animal conservation. The Fish and Wildlife Service also announced similar trophies to be allowed for lions, another endangered species, whose trophies have been banned from importation into the United States.

    Your Turn

  • What do YOU think? Should the ban be lifted? Why or why not?
  • What do you think of animal body parts being called "trophies"?

  • Learn about elephants:Elephant Fun Facts(Free)

    *Photograph from

    Frank Giaccio, 11, of Fall Church, Virginia, wrote a letter to the White House asking if he could come over and mow the White House lawns. He has a lawn mowing business and charges $8 to mow lawns. He offered to do the job at the White House for the same amount. His dad, after reviewing Frank's letter, suggested he offer to do the job for free.Frank was surprised to get a response to come over and do the lawn, specifically assist with the landscaping in the Rose Garden. Frank was told he didn't need to bring his own lawnmower that one would be provided. On September 15th, Frank(FX) arrived to work. While mowing the lawn near the Oval Office, Frank didn't realize that the President had come out of his office to greet him. He was wearing ear plugs. The President followed him around a bit until his father got his attention to turn around. President Trump said to Frank, "Have you done this before.Way to go" He said that Frank was the "future of our country". Frank was invited into the Oval Office where he got to see the famous Oval Office where the President works. VP Pence also came over to say hello to Frank.Frank said it was "really cool" to meet both the President and Vice President.


  • Would you want to mow the White House lawns? Is there something else you'd like to be invited to the White House to do?
  • Would you like to meet the President? Why, why not?What is a question you'd ask of the President of the United States?

  • Photograph from

    Would you take a walk along this bridge? The world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge has opened in the Zermatt area of Switzerland. The amazing bridge cuts the time to about 19 minutes to make a distance that previously needed four hours from Zermatt to another village called Grachen. The 1621ft.long Europabruecke Bridge is about 25 inches wide and at points is 279 ft. above the valley. It does offer some beautiful views of the famed Matterhorn mountain.

    Your Turn:

  • Would you walk this bridge? Why, why not?
  • What would you be thinking as you walked across the suspension bridge? For me(first of all, I wouldn’t walk it) BUT if I did, my thoughts would be, “When will I get OFF this bridge!"
  • Write three adjectives to describe walking along the bridge.
  • Write a paragraph as to what you see as you are walking the bridge.

  • 7/17:Along an Oregon highway, a trunk crashed releasing 7,500 pounds of hagfish!Highway crews had to clean up the slimy mess!

    Your Turn:

  • Write a paragraph pretending to be one of the highway crew coming upon the hagfish.
  • Photograph from:

    6/17:Peaceful protesting has worked for a group of boys in a school in England. Pants are the dress code for boys throughout the school year. Girls wear skirts. A group of boys wanted to be able to wear shorts in the summer time so to protest wearing long pants in summer, they decided to wear the skirts worn by girls! The school has decided to allow the boys to wear shorts next year.

  • Your Turn:
  • Do you think dress codes are a positive or a negative thing? Explain your answer.
  • Would you have been one of the boys who would have come to school wearing a skirt?
  • What is another PEACEFUL method to protest something for which you don't agree?
  • Photograph from

    6/17: A new law in the village of Bergun/Bravuogn,in the Swiss Alps will surprise visitors. Photographs have been banned. Seems the village is so beautiful, town leaders are concerned that people seeing photographs posted by tourists might get depressed! Signs are posted in the tiny village near St. Moritz stating fines may be charged to those taking photographs.

    Photograph from

  • Your Turn:
  • What are your thoughts on this news story?
  • Why might the village have really tried to do this?
  • Write three facts you know about the country of Switzerland.
  • Photograph from

    The home where Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement,lived can be found in Berlin, Germany. It had fallen into disrepair and purchased by artist Ryan Mendoza. He dismantled the house and had it shipped to Berlin where it was rebuilt. Although closed to the public, Mendoza has radio interviews of Rosa Parks broadcasted from the building.

    Photograph from

    Click out this Reader's Theater Script on Rosa Parks:Rosa Parks: A Reader's Theater Script

  • Your Turn:
  • What do you think of a famous American's home being purchased and moved to another country?

    Donald Trump signed an executive order called American-First Offshore Energy Strategy. His action would reduce regulations on oil drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. His reasoning is that drilling in these oceans will supply oil to reduce our dependency on purchasing foreign oil. He also believes that allowing drilling will create jobs.
    Your thoughts:

  • 1. Do you support drilling for oil in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans? Why or why not?
  • 2. Do you think jobs are more important than the possible negative environmental impact on our oceans with the proposed drilling?

  • While hiking in Oregon, a man came upon a baby black cub. Thinking the young cub was not breathing, he decided to look and see if its mother was in the area. After determining the cub was alone, the man wrapped up the malnourished bear cub and took it to a nearby wildlife center, where it received care. The man faced possible charges as it is illegal to capture wildlife in the state of Oregon. People are warned to let wildlife be. In this case, authorities say the hiker should have just notified them so they could have deal with the bear cub.

  • 1. What do you think about this news story?
  • 2. Should this hiker be fined for what he did? Why or why not?
  • 3. What would you have done if you were in this situation?

  • 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:

    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.


  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    Photograph from

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

  • 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:

    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

    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

    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 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

    Photograph from

    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

    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

    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

    Virtual Money?

    The country of Sweden is doing away with something you probably are carrying in your! 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?

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

    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


    Photograph from

    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

  • 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 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:
  • 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

    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

    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
  • 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?

  • 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.
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    REAL "Caveman" Found!

    A 150,000 year old skeleton of a Neanderthal was not only found inside a 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.

  • 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?

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    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?

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    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

    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
  • 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

    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.


  • 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.

  • 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?
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    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.

  • 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?
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    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.

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    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

    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.

  • 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!
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    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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.


    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.

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    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?

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    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

    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

    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.
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    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

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    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.
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    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.
  • 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:

    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

    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

    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
    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 Draw a travel poster for the island including 5 facts learned about Guernsey.
  • Learn about the English 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 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

    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)

  • 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.


    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

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

    Note: Photograph from

    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

    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