February 5, 2010 | Grades 5 & 6 In This Issue: Meet the iPad; Head Injuries in Football; Dinosaur Colors
A New, Slimmed-Down Computer
Apple has introduced a new product it hopes will rival Amazon Kindle and expand upon the success of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With the forthcoming iPad, the company is poised to enter the e-book business by way of a slim tablet computer that offers users computing power well beyond that of other e-readers. With the 1/2-inch-thick device, people can connect wirelessly to the Internet and tap into 140,000 iPhone apps.
Activity Ideas - Language Arts
Tell your child that throughout history, new materials or technology have made some people predict the end of older devices that do similar things.
ASK: Do you think the e-book will one day replace the real thing? Why or why not?
Is there anything that you would miss about holding and reading a book with pages you turn manually? If so, what?
Have your child select one invention that he or she can't imagine living without. Then, have him or her write a few paragraphs about what life would be like if it had never been invented.
Suggest he or she ask parents, grandparents or other family members and friends from an earlier generation about how they researched school reports without the Internet, how they turned in papers before computers, or how they did various things without modern conveniences.
Suggest that he or she Podcast anecdotes/findings in a lighthearted news report.
The latest news about head injures in the game of football is mind-boggling and especially alarming considering all the school-aged children who play the game. Recent reports from concerned researchers indicate that concussions and head injuries are far more damaging than previously thought. Retired pros have come forward exhibiting signs of serious health problems including short-term memory loss, early onset of Alzheimer's and depression. Concerned players and scientists are demanding the NFL address the situation and enact stricter rules regarding the game's physicality. Last fall, the league adopted a new policy requiring players to be cleared by a brain-injury expert before returning to a game or practice. Several states are considering or have passed similar policy for youth sports.
Activity Ideas - Math Tell your child that an average-size NFL defensive back (DB) is 5 feet 11 inches and 199 pounds, and that more than 500 players weighed at least 300 pounds at the 2006 training camps. A DB's mass combined with his speed — on average, 4.56 seconds for the 40-yard dash — can produce up to 1600 pounds of tackling force (from The Physics of Football).
Use the average time that it takes a DB to run the 40-yard dash to calculate how far a player travels per second: 8 yards per second (40 yards ÷ 5 seconds [round figure up] = 8 yards per second).
Compare time with the pros: Suggest your child create a yard-long raceway on the driveway or yard. Time him or her running five yards. Based on that time, ASK: If your pace remained consistent, how long would it take you to run a 40-yard dash?
Tell your child that a U.S. ton equals 2,000 pounds. Ask him or her to convert 1,600 pounds into tons: 4/5 of a ton. (1,600 ÷ 2,000 =0.8) (0.8 = 8/10). To reduce fraction to its lowest terms, divide both numerator and denominator by greatest common factor, 2: 4/5 (8 ÷ 2 = 4) (10 ÷ 2 = 5)
Until now, re-created images of T-Rex's contemporaries portrayed them in colors based on the artists' imaginings and not on hard evidence. This is about to change for the feathered dinos. Recently scientists announced that they had discovered the color of a dinosaur that lived 125 million years ago. How? By studying its fossilized feathers. Scientists know that a bird's feathers get some color from pigments called melanins, which are contained within a capsule-like structure in the feather. The shape of the capsule depends on its color. In this case, the dinosaur's tail was covered with ginger and white feathers.
Activity Ideas - Language Arts Writing Tell your child that researchers continue to find new species of dinosaurs and learn new information about them.
Have your child select a kind of dinosaur or aspect of dinosaur life that he or she would like to learn more about. The articles and references above may spark some ideas.
Suggest he or she research the topic or dinosaur of interest, using the Internet and other sources. Be sure to keep a record of sources.
Write a one-page report based on research, to highlight the most intriguing or compelling facts.
Tell your child to make up one fictional "fact" and incorporate it into the story as truth. Then suggest he or she shares the report with family and friends to see if they can identify the untruth.
Share this fact drawn from a TIME magazine story: A paleontologist summed up the "essence" of T-Rex as "Jaws on fast-running legs." Have your child come up with a short descriptive phrase to sum up a dinosaur.