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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 11, 2023

1. TROUBLE ON CAMPUS

Several universities are facing a congressional inquiry and pressure from angry donors due to their handling of antisemitism on their campuses. Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania all faced House committee hearings where they were questioned on the “rampant antisemitism” on their campuses. The presidents of all three universities are now facing calls for their resignations as critics say they haven’t done enough to combat the targeting and harassment Jewish students are facing. Read more about the issue from at least two different sources. Then, write a summary of what you learned and any differences you found between different articles on the same topic.

2. KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER

A federal judge preemptively blocked the resumption of a Trump-era policy in case the former president is reelected next year. Judge Dana Sabraw prohibited the separation of families at the US border for the purpose of deterring immigration for the next eight years. Back in 2018, Sabraw called for an end to the separations and for the government to reunite children with their parents within 30 days. Now, the policy that allowed more than 5,000 children to be separated from their parents who were arrested for illegally entering the country could not be put back into place until at least December 2031. Read about the aftermath of family separations that is still ongoing today. Then, write a paragraph summarizing how this new policy would change the way families are treated at the border.

3. A.I. HALLUCINATIONS

Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic for months, particularly following the release of tools like ChatGPT. However, one problem has remained unsolved: AI bots’ propensity to “hallucinate” or repeat inaccurate information. A Brown University professor who helped write the White House’s blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights explained that the technology behind tools like ChatGPT are trained to produce a realistic-sounding answer, not necessarily a correct answer. The biggest issue is that it’s often difficult to users to determine whether a chatbot is giving factual information or not. High-profile examples include a lawyer who referenced six cases made up by a chatbot in a legal brief and a news outlet that had to issue a correction after an AI-generated article gave inaccurate finance advice. Look up other instances where people have relied on chatbots and the information they got wound up being untrue. Then, write a short summary of what you found and a paragraph on why this could be problematic if people turn to chatbots for certain information, like medical or voting advice.

4. OLYMPIC ANNOUNCEMENT

The International Olympic Committee has announced that some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Previously, there was consideration for a blanket ban on athletes from the country after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent, ongoing war, but the IOC instead decided to let individual athletes compete as long as they are neutral status, which means they haven’t actively supported the war and aren’t under a military or state security contract. Russia still remains banned from team sports in the upcoming Paris Olympics, as they were from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The neutral-status athletes will also not compete under their country’s flag or colors or have their national anthem played at medal ceremonies. Look up other times countries haven’t been allowed to send teams to the Olympics. What was the reasoning? Write a summary of some of the other instances you find and how the determination against Russia fits in with those cases.

5. SPEAKER STRUGGLES

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is once again in hot water with a faction of his own party for participating in bipartisan negotiations on Congress’ annual defense bill. Republicans had added a chunk of highly partisan mandates to the normally non-controversial bill that included limits to abortion access, gender-affirming care for transgender service members, and diversity training and the bill had narrowly passed in the House this summer. The Democratic-led Senate passed a stripped-back version and when it returned to the House, Johnson reached a bipartisan agreement with Democrats to remove those provisions in order to move the bill, which Congress must pass every year, forward. However, the ultra-conservative Republican base that helped Johnson attain the role of House Speaker have spoken out as feeling betrayed by his compromises with Democrats. Find and carefully read articles from at least two different sources about House Speaker Mike Johnson and the defense spending bill. Then, write a summary of the similarities and differences you found between the two sources.