In This Issue: A New Earth-Like Planet; Survey Links Texting and Literacy; The Shape of Your Sandwich
Are Other Earths Out There? Astronomers have discovered a watery world outside of our solar system. Don't pack your bags yet; the planet is not habitable for humans—its ocean surface is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is likely shrouded in a dark fog of superheated steam. But its existence gives scientists another reason to believe that they will soon find a planet that could support some kind of life. Known as GJ 1214b, it joins a growing list of planets discovered outside of our solar system. Learn More:The Journal Nature Summary
Activity Ideas - Compare and Contrast: Help your child draw a Venn diagram—two circles intersecting. Label the outer circles Earth and GJ 1214b, respectively; label the shared portion Both.
Note the differences between the planets. WRITE a few characteristics or features unique to each planet in its column. (Earth: diameter of 8,000 miles; 93 million miles away from sun. GJ 1214b: diameter 21,440; 1.9 million miles away from sun)
In the shared space, WRITE characteristics or features shared by both planets. (water, orbit a home star)
ANSWER: GJ 1214b has a diameter that is greater than or less than that of Earth. The distance between the Earth and its sun is greater than or less than the distance between GJ 1214b and its star.
Bonus Science Question: Why do astronomers believe that the planet could support life? Learning Tips: Greater or Less Than
Survey: Texting = Reading & Writing A recent survey indicates that kids who text, blog or use social networking sites are more apt to be enthusiastic readers and writers offline as well. Researchers from National Literacy Trust concluded that the more forms of communication children use, the stronger their core literacy skills. The Trust doesn't see any problems with the jumbled jargon and misspellings that make up texts, saying that children can distinguish between different writing styles.
Activity Ideas - Writing: Review with your child the different parts of a letter to a friend.
ASK: What are the five parts of a letter? (date, greeting, body, closing and signature)
Using COMPLETE SENTENCES and PUNCTUATION: Have your child write a variety of sentence styles.
TRANSLATE the letter into text, as best you can. COMPARE the tone. ASK: Which do you prefer and why?
Learning Tips: Different Types of Sentences What Shape Is Your Sandwich? Think sandwiches are boring? Think again: NPR recently explored the shape of the lunch-box staple with a chef, an architect and other experts to determine how best to optimize the ratio of crustless bread. All agreed that triangles topped rectangles. A food editor stated that the diagonal cut creates the illusion that your sandwich is bigger. An architect said that the diagonal line has a storied history of superiority—consider the Great Pyramids. And as the mathematician explained, it's all in the numbers.
Activity Ideas - Charts and Graphs Have family members and friends vote on the ideal shape for sandwich halves: rectangles, triangles or prefer to eat sandwich uncut—square.
CHART the results, showing the number of votes that each shape got.
Make a BAR GRAPH to show the results of the vote. The y-axis will represent the number of votes (numbers increase by two); the x-axis shows the three options.