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Archive for the ‘SIRS Issues Researcher’ Category

Our Founding Fathers Said That?

Constitutional Convention (Granger Collecton, NY/courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/PUBLIC DOMAIN) (courtesy of SIRS Discoverer)

The United States Constitution is considered to be “the supreme law of the land.” And it has been for more than two centuries. No small feat for a document uniting the ideas of nationhood, independence, defense, general welfare, and all sorts of liberties.

This document certainly was not created alone.

Many people contributed to the development, shaping, and writing of the U.S. Constitution. Those who had the most significant impact on its outcome are considered to be the U.S. Founding Fathers (remember that this was the 18th century–women, such as Abigail Adams, influenced the Constitution, but through their husbands…a blog post for another day).

With all of the hullabaloo around the upcoming presidential election, and with all of the recent discussions on and controversies around gun rights and women’s rights and immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ rights and criminal rights and voting rights…, let’s take a listen to what some of our Founding Fathers have said about the U.S. Constitution.

First U.S. President George Washington (Gilbert Stuart/U.S. Dept. of the Interior/PUBLIC DOMAIN) (courtesy SKS)

 

“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”–George Washington (1732-1799)

George Washington is considered by many to be the “father of the country.” He was, after all, the nation’s first President. He served that office from 1789 to 1797. Prior to that, he was a general in the Revolutionary War and is considered to have played a pivotal role in leading the American Army to victory.

Our first president was known as a man of few and select words, as embodied by the above quote. He thoughtfully deemed the U.S. Constitution a “guide” to be followed, not the zenith or the ultimate truth.

Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (Rembrandt Peale/U.S. Dept. of the Interior/PUBLIC DOMAIN) (courtesy SKS)

 

“Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”–Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States (1801-1809), was a terrible speaker but a terrific writer. He wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, and his input was invaluable to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

Jefferson was a lawyer, diplomat, naturalist, architect, educator, statesman, musician, inventor, scientist, geographer…he was fluent in many languages…he supported women’s rights, free public education, and a free library system. All in all, a brilliant and cultured man. He knew government had to be kept in check, and that the general population was essential to maintaining this stability: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government–lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”–Patrick Henry (1736-1799)

Patrick Henry was never president, but he certainly made a name for himself as an orator, lawyer, and politician. He served as first and sixth governor of Virginia, and was instrumental in opposing the Stamp Act of 1765. In fact, he may be most famous for saying, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

This guy liked freedom.

Henry’s political priorities always aligned with affirming the general population’s rights and well-being. He was consistently against the idea of a strong central government. He initially opposed the idea of a U.S. Constitution, fearing it would jeopardize individual freedoms and state sovereignty. He only became an ardent supporter of the Constitution once the Bill of Rights was added.

Henry wanted the U.S. Constitution to serve as an “instrument” for the people, providing them with the means necessary to maintain their freedoms and hold their government accountable.

Fourth U.S. President James Madison (John Vanderlyn/U.S. Dept. of the Interior/PUBLIC DOMAIN) (courtesy SKS)

 

“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”–James Madison (1751-1836)

James Madison, fourth president of the United States (1809-1817), is considered to be the “father of the Constitution.” He had helped write Virginia’s State Constitution, the model for the U.S. Constitution. Both are grounded in his belief that the United States’ potential would be “derived from the superior power of the people.”

Madison predicted a national crisis if no Constitution was drafted. His advocacy for creating a U.S. Constitution paved the way for the Constitutional Congress.

He understood the importance of understanding and interpreting the context in which the document was written. As the context of the living documents changes, should the Constitution?

“It is every American’s right and obligation to read and interpret the Constitution for himself.”–Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin’s words could not be more timely.

Franklin–statesman, writer, scientist, philosopher, inventor, political theorist, printer–understood that true freedom in this nation began with freedom to choose for oneself.

Franklin’s highest political office was Minister to France. But as the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he had participated in significant events in American history, such as the signing of the peace treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

As a participant in the signing of the Constitution, Franklin shared an observation that all hoped would be a symbol for the new country. Upon seeing the sun sitting atop George Washington’s chair at the closing of the Constitutional Convention, Franklin said: “I have the happiness to know it is a rising sun and not a setting sun.”

What are your students’ thoughts about the U.S. Constitution? Find resources in SKS and SIRS Discoverer and join us throughout the month of September as we celebrate National Constitution Month.

6 Reasons Why Editorial Cartoons Are an Essential Teaching Tool

“One strong editorial cartoon is worth a hundred solemn editorials.”
—William Zinsser, On Writing Well

daily-paper-464015_1920

CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

My seventh-grade social studies teacher gave extra credit to students who brought in editorial cartoons for class discussions. Luckily for me, stacks of newspapers were common in my house. My father was a printing-press operator and a newspaper addict. We got three newspapers daily and sometimes more when my father couldn’t resist a newsstand. So I got a lot of extra credit that year.

Editorial cartoons are all that I remember from that class. My newspaper monopoly aside, I remember being captivated by grown-up cartoons and wanted to understand them, which is how I became interested in current events and issues. I still get excited when I see editorial cartoons. An astute cartoon is an oasis in a wit-starved world.

To celebrate our new Editorial Cartoons Curriculum Guide, here are six reasons why editorial cartoons are an enduring curriculum essential.

Why do you think editorial cartoons are an essential teaching tool?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter #ProQuest or in the comments below.

ProQuest editors are continually adding editorial cartoons to ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Don’t have it? Request a trial.

Leading Issues in the News: Zika

When the 2016 Summer Olympic games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro in 2009, the Zika virus was not on anyone’s mind. Instead, Rio faced concerns about crime, corruption, pollution and if the Olympic venues would be completed in time. That changed in May 2015 with the confirmation of the first case of Zika in Brazil. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency in February 2016 and warned it would continue to spread throughout Latin America and worldwide.

2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony

2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Olympic rings adorn Maracana Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games. By Fernando Frazao/Agencia Brasil via Wikimedia Commons.

The Zika outbreak raised concerns and fears about the impact on athletes and visitors. In May 2016, a group of doctors and scientists called on the WHO to have an open discussion on the risk of holding the Olympics in Brazil. The WHO declined the request and stated postponing, cancelling, or changing the location of the Olympics would not alter the spread of the Zika virus. A number of athletes pulled out of the Olympics citing concerns over Zika. However, for many athletes, their dreams of competing in the Olympic games outweighed the potential risks of contracting the Zika virus.

Now that the Games have ended and athletes and tourists have returned to their home countries, questions remain over the long-term effects of Zika. How many people were infected with the virus? Will they transmit the virus worldwide? Researchers estimate that for every 100,000 visitors to Rio, only 3 will be infected. But that is just an estimate. Will babies who are born in nine months suffer birth defects related to Zika infection? The world will just have to wait to find out the answers to these questions.

In the meantime, you can turn to SIRS Issues Researcher for in-depth coverage of the Zika virus. Zika is given the Leading Issues treatment and asks users the Essential Question, “Should pregnancy be postponed in areas where Zika is present.” Various viewpoints and background information are provided.

Will you be discussing Zika and the Olympics in your classroom? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service!

The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The National Park Service has been taking care of America’s national parks since 1916. The centennial will commemorate the achievements of the National Park Service over the past 100 years and kick off another century of preservation, conservation, and enjoyment of the nation’s beautiful national parks. In honor of the National Park Service’s centennial, I would like to share some interesting facts about the National Park Service and the National Park System that you and your students may not know.

National Park Service Research Topic

National Park Service Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

1. The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” into law. The National Park Service was created 44 years after Yellowstone became the country’s first national park. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act on March 1, 1872.

2. There are approximately 22,000 permanent, temporary, and seasonal workers employed by the National Park Service. 221,000 volunteers donate their time to the National Park Service.

3. The National Park System includes “412 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.” The areas include 59 national parks, 83 national monuments, 78 national historic sites, 50 national historical parks, 30 national memorials, 19 national preserves, 18 national recreation areas, 11 national battlefields, 9 national military parks, 10 national seashores, and 4 national lakeshores.

4. The largest national park in the United States is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 13.2 million acres. The country’s smallest national park is Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas at 5,500 acres.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited national park in 2015 with 10,712,674 recreational visits, followed by Grand Canyon National Park (5,520,736), Rocky Mountain National Park (4,155,916), Yosemite National Park (4,150,217), Yellowstone National Park (4,097,710), Zion National Park (3,648,846), Olympic National Park (3,263,761), Grand Teton National Park (3,149,921), Acadia National Park (2,811,184), and Glacier National Park (2,366,056 ).

I feel lucky to have traveled to six of the country’s ten most visited national parks. I will be celebrating the National Park Service’s birthday by visiting three of Utah’s national parks in the fall. You can join in the National Park Service’s celebration by visiting a national park in your state. The National Park Service is offering free admission to all sites from August 25th through August 28th to mark the occasion.

To learn more about the National Park Service and America’s magnificent national parks, explore these resources available in eLibrary and SIRS Issues Researcher.

Find Your Park

National Park Foundation

National Park Service

National Park Service Research Topic

National Parks Research Topic

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

Are you going to visit a national park to help the National Park Service celebrate its birthday? How many national parks have you visited? What is your favorite national park? Comment below or tweet us using #ProQuest.

Loving the LOVE at the Olympics!

Brazilian Flag and Olympic Logo

Brazilian Flag and Olympic Logo (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain])

What makes the Olympics so beloved?

Perhaps it is because we, the spectators, are satiated with incredible competition and mind-blowing athleticism.

Perhaps it is because we enjoy witnessing the thrill of victory…and yes, even the agony of defeat.

Perhaps it is because we want to feel as if we are a part of something magnificent, something bigger than ourselves, something shared with most of the world.

Perhaps it is because we are inspired by the edited Olympic coverage of athletes’ personal lives…our heartstrings are pulled and our own dreams come into focus–if only for a moment.

But I think there is something more that keeps us watching, keeps us coming back, keeps us gratified. Something absolutely grand.

Joy. Harmony. Peace. LOVE.

Open hearts abound during the Olympic Games. Like when…

Michael Phelps hugged his teammate Caeleb Dressel, the young swimmer who was overcome with emotion after their team won the gold in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay.

…gymnast Louis Smith of Great Britain sincerely congratulated gymnast Alexander Naddour of the United States for winning the bronze medal in pommel horse.

…Jen Kish, the team captain of Canada’s women’s rugby team, found her father in the stands after the team’s bronze-medal win.

…gymnast Laurie Hernandez of the United States held up her team-winning gold medal to her father…and he ecstatically and emotionally fist-pumped back to her.

Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz celebrated with her coach, Alfonsito Aldanete, after her second lift of the competition. She won the silver medal.

…gymnasts Diego Hypolito and Arthur Mariano of Brazil tearfully and exuberantly rejoiced after winning silver and bronze for their floor routines, respectively.

…Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa set the world record in the men’s 400m–and we watched his 74-year-old great-grandmother (who is his coach) celebrating in the stands. And then larger-than-life runner Usain Bolt congratulated him.

These astonishingly genuine moments are, simply put, human moments. They transcend the thrill of victory…these moments are sincere human connections, which is what makes them so gratifying to witness.

They are why I watch the Olympics.

How about you? What keeps bringing you back to the Olympic Games?

SKS and SIRS Discoverer honor the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with Spotlights of the Month, featuring articles and Web sites on Olympic history, athletes, and moments. Join us in celebrating this international event.

U.S.-China Relations…Soundbites Do No Justice

Flag of China


Flag of China
(courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, via SIRS Discoverer) (Public Domain)

 

China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy in 2010. To the United States, that fact makes engagement with this Asian nation very, very, very important. To the world, that fact makes the stability of this Asian nation pivotal to international economies and diplomacy.

What do we understand about the United States’ relationship with China? How do we gauge the significance of the goings-on between these two countries?

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International cooperation is vital if we are to defeat international terrorism. Here U.S. and Chinese officials sign an agreement permitting pre-screening of containers from China destined for U.S. ports.
(Credit: K. L. Wong/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, via SIRS Knowledge Source) (Public Domain)

 

We hear the Obama administration explain U.S. relations with China. We hear U.S. presidential candidates assert their plans for future engagement with China. We hear political pundits’ opinions and warnings about China. We hear investors’ anxieties about China. We hear authorities discuss the dangers of eating food from China. We hear analysts speculate how the U.S. economy and employment has suffered from purchasing many manufactured goods from China.

We hear. And then perception, perspectives, beliefs, and interpretation come into play. Who is “right”? Who is telling the “truth”? What is the “reality” of these situations and their talking points?

I certainly don’t know the answers to those questions. But one thing I am certain of–nothing can be boiled down to a soundbite.

It’s up to us–the receivers of this information–to listen to the dialogue and then engage in our own research in order to form our own opinions.

The National High School Debate policy topic for 2016-2017 requires just that. The topic is this: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China. In other words, students, probe China’s evolving economic and diplomatic status in the world and consider whether it is in the United States’ best interests to increase areas of engagement with this nation. Find the issues. Consider solutions. Decide for yourselves.

China is a nation culturally and historically rich, filled with beautiful customs and traditions, magnificent cities and countrysides, unique landforms, and diverse ways of living. Its history is complicated–scholars spend a lifetime tracing centuries of events, transformations, and the reasons behind them. Its relationship with the United States is complex, and the outcomes of this relationship potentially impact the world.

President Nixon Visits China


President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou Enlai toast each other during Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing in 1972, which ended 22 years of hostility between the two nations.
(Credit: Nixon Presidential Library, via SIRS Knowledge Source) (Public Domain)

 

The SKS Spotlight of the Month for July can help anyone–students participating in the National High School Debate, students researching for history class, teachers looking to educate themselves–get started on their long road of research about China. Explore China’s beauty and diversity, scratch the surface of this country’s history and consider its relationship with the United States. These two nations have navigated economic and political transformations, wars, increasing populations, industrialization, rivalries, and partnerships. What is to come? Should the U.S. federal government increase its economic and diplomatic engagement with China? Would an intensification of ties strengthen or threaten the United States’ national interests and international influence? And are those the only questions we should be asking?

Go beyond the soundbites. Listen, read, ponder, speculate, conclude…decide for yourself.

 

This Day in History: Mount Pinatubo Erupts (June 15, 1991)

Twenty-five years ago, on June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo, located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, erupted after being dormant for 600 years. Before the eruption, Mount Pinatubo was covered with tropical vegetation and was home to more than 30,000 people who lived in villages on its slopes. Thousands of other people lived in the valleys surrounding the volcano, including 14,000 US military personnel and their families stationed at Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.

First Explosive Eruption on June 12, 1991

First Explosive Eruption on June 12, 1991 [public domain]
via U.S. Geological Survey

Huge avalanches of searing hot ash, gas, and pumice fragments roared down the sides of Mount Pinatubo, filling once-deep valleys with fresh volcanic deposits as much as 660 feet thick. The eruption removed so much magma and rock from below the volcano that the summit collapsed to form a large volcanic depression, known as a caldera, 1.6 miles across. More than 350 people died during the eruption, most of them from collapsing roofs. Even more devastating than the eruption were the flows of water and debris that resulted when monsoon rains mixed with the accumulated volcanic ash. Disease that broke out in evacuation camps and the continuing mud flows in the area caused additional deaths, bringing the total death toll to 722 people.

Fortunately, geologists from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the United States Geological Survey had been monitoring the volcano since early April, when earthquakes and an explosion opened up a line of vents and fissures on the side of the mountain. The scientists were able to accurately predict the timing of the eruption and its effects. As a result, the Philippine government and the American military were able to carry out a timely evacuation of the population, saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars in property damage.

Summit Caldera, As Seen August 1, 1991, from the Northeast

Summit Caldera, As Seen August 1, 1991, from the Northeast
(T.J. Casadevall/U.S. Geological Survey) [public domain]

The impact of the eruption lasted long after the initial explosion. The volcano had ejected an estimated 15-20 million tons of sulfur dioxide and ash particles more than 22 miles high into the stratosphere, forming a cloud over the entire earth. Over the next 15 months, scientists measured a drop in the average global temperature of about 1 degree F. The eruption also contributed to ozone depletion–the ozone layer hole over the South Pole reached its largest size yet recorded when observed in 1992, the year following the eruption. Mount Pinatubo is considered the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

Today, the site is a tourist spot, attracting more than 3,000 visitors each month, who climb and hike near the volcano, enjoying the beauty of the caldera lake created 25 years ago during the eruption.

SIRS Leading Issue: Natural Disasters

SIRS Leading Issue: Natural Disasters
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

For more information on volcanic eruptions, as well as other natural disasters like hurricanes, avalanches, forest fires, floods, droughts, tsunamis and earthquakes, explore SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues feature on Natural Disasters. Like each one of the over 335 SIRS Leading Issues, the Natural Disasters Leading Issue contains an overview of the issue, a timeline, statistics and an Essential Question with answers and supporting viewpoint articles. Resources are hand-selected by ProQuest editors from more than 2,000 national and international sources–including newspaper and magazine articles, graphics, charts, maps, primary sources, government documents, websites, and multimedia to support comprehension of the pros, cons and everything in-between.

The Stonewall Riots and the Birth of Gay Liberation

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike Generic 2.0 license] [via Wikimedia Commons]

Peace, love, and condemnation

We generally consider the 1960s in the United States as an era of peace and love. But the homosexual communities during this decade were commonly condemned by mainstream society.

Homosexuality was still classified as a “mental disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association. Police raids were conducted in establishments known to be “gay-friendly.” Homosexual acts were illegal, and many people were arrested for engaging in them. Some were fined; others were sentenced to long prison terms–even lifetime sentences. There were not many places where a gay man or woman could be open about their sexuality. Countless lesbians and gays lived “in the closet,” an existence in which they could not express their true selves.

The year was 1969

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike Generic 2.0 license], [via Wikimedia Commons]

Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 3.0] [via Wikimedia Commons]

During the 1960s, New York City was home to the largest gay population in the country. The city was also considered to be one of the most aggressive against this alternative culture.

As the night of June 27 turned to June 28, in the year 1969, the New York City police conducted what they thought would be a routine raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Previous raids always resulted in arrests and not much opposition from the bar’s patrons.

Not on this night.

On this 1969 summer night, the gay liberation movement was born.

Out of the melee, pride emerges

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, gay patrons, regularly harassed by the New York City police, took a stand. Word of the demonstration spread and many joined the riot at the Stonewall Inn. Protests broke out throughout the city. They continued for days, despite police attempts to control the crowds. Shouts of “gay power” and singing of “We Shall Overcome” rang through the streets.

The Stonewall riots inspired local and national dialogue about gay civil rights. Very soon after the riots, a gay advocacy group in NYC was formed and a newspaper was launched. In commemoration of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades were held in Greenwich Village, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two years after the riots, nearly every major U.S. city had established a gay-rights organization. And in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Nearly five decades later…

Forty-seven years after the Stonewall riots, the gay liberation movement has evolved to encompass the civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Incredible strides have been made in the LGBT movement:

In 2000, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples; four years later, Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage. A June 2015 Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in all states, a huge victory for the LGBT movement.

What constituted a hate crime in the United States was expanded in 2009 to include crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or identity or disability. 

In 2011, the Obama administration addressed the United Nations and announced that LGBT rights are “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time” and that the country would support international efforts promoting LGBT rights.

Transgender rights  became a mainstream issue after the turn of the century and quickly picked up momentum. By 2013, two major federal rulings advanced equal opportunity employment for transgender people. The year 2013 also heralded further progress in the struggle for transgender rights: California enacted the first U.S. law protecting transgender students, and the American Psychiatric Association eliminated its diagnosis “gender identity disorder.”

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, otherwise known as LGBT Pride Month. It was established in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It is a time of celebration, commemoration, and remembrance: a celebration of living freely, openly, and honestly; a commemoration of all that the LGBT community has contributed and what the LGBT rights movement has accomplished; and a remembrance of members of the LGBT community who lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

Join SKS and its June Spotlight of the Month in honoring LGBT Pride Month. Learn about the history of the gay rights movement and follow its path as it is forged in the United States and many countries around the world.

“The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history.” ― Tom Cardamone, author, and activist

STEM Education Invites Summer Science

Educational interpretations and implementations of STEM–an acronym for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–are as varied as the fields of study themselves. Only one thing is clear: the general consensus of educators and educational professionals is that STEM education can provide enormous benefits for students.

Photo credit: opensourceway / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: opensourceway / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

How could it not? In 2009, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) report showed that U.S. high-school students were ranked 18th in math scores and 13th in science scores. Thirty-four nations participated, so these results were troubling. So troubling, in fact, that–in seeming response to the PISA rankings–the White House issued numerous reports on the significance of STEM education and allocated funding toward STEM initiatives and programs. In 2010, President Obama set a goal of increasing teachers’ and students’ proficiency in STEM fields of study.

President Barack Obama hosts the Science Fair at the State Dining Room of the White House, held for winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. <br />Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy [Public Domain], via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter

President Barack Obama hosts the Science Fair at the State Dining Room of the White House, held for winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy [Public Domain], via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter

So the question became…how? There are, of course, no easy answers. Possible solutions continue to be pondered, discussed, argued, and carried out in classrooms. Some things have worked, others haven’t. Thus is the evolution of education.

We at ProQuest applaud the efforts toward comprehensive STEM education and celebrate the national attention it has engendered. One goal of STEM education is to instill a sense of curiosity and exploration in students. This goal is one shared by ProQuest and its K-12 products.

Join us this summer in celebration of STEM education and its practice and growth in the United States. STEM disciplines are prominently featured on SIRS Discoverer–our product for young researchers–in its Science topic tree and in Science Fair Explorer. SIRS Issues Researcher offers a number of STEM-related topics in its Leading Issues database, such as Alternative Energy Sources, Biomedical Technology, Genetic Engineering, Nuclear Energy, Ozone Depletion, Space Exploration and Travel, and Technology. Click on any of these topics for up-to-date articles and information. And in the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month for June, Summer Science Projects, we encourage students to see the science, technology, engineering, and math that surrounds them through hands-on activities. Everyone can be a scientist! STEM is all around us…the night sky, a frog’s call, a blooming flower, a car’s engine, an Internet transmission, a deep breath…STEM at work.

If we can impress upon one student the joy of seeing science, technology, engineering, and math all around, we have done our jobs.

YA Fiction Leading Issues Summer Reading List

YA Books Leading Issues

Reviewed YA Books Featured on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal)

Many students struggle to understand the more complicated emotional aspects of Leading Issues. A YA fiction summer reading list that humanizes controversial Leading Issues can help students consider and develop more nuanced, emotionally informed viewpoints. The Leading Issues feature in SIRS Issues Researcher provides students with viewpoints on leading controversial issues with Essential Questions, viewpoints, and supporting articles for evidence-based research.

But evidence-based logic isn’t the only factor that contributes to skilled argument writing. In his blog post, “Common Core Writing and ELLs,” Larry Ferlazzo states that logic should guide argument writing but emotion can have a pivotal role as well:

“Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion — for good or bad — is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world.”–Larry Ferlazzo

Including YA fiction on summer reading lists can offer perspectives that address the emotional aspects of controversial Leading Issues. After reading a compelling narrative over the summer, students will return to school better prepared for evidence-based research and argumentative writing.

Here are five YA fiction titles with a narrative related to a Leading Issue that may touch students’ emotions:

1. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
Natural Disasters Leading Issue

Drowned CityPublisher’s Description: “On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. A portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.”

 

2. Violent Ends by Multiple Authors
School Shootings Leading Issue

Violent EndsPublisher’s Description:“In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting….Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.”

 

3. The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith
Dating Violence/Date Rape Leading Issue

Used to BePublisher’s Description: “In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault. Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes….Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.”

 

4. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Gender Identity Leading Issue

Your GirlPublisher’s Description: “A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are. Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart….Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love? Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different―and a love story that everyone will root for.”

 

5. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Depression Leading Issue

memory lightPublisher’s Description: “When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had….Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.”

All titles are linked to reviews by the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal).

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