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Posts Tagged ‘SIRS Issues Researcher’

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.

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.

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.

Recording Offers Sneak Peek of New SIRS Issues Researcher

Sneak Peek Webinar

The SIRS Knowledge Source portal, including the SIRS Issues Researcher product, is getting a makeover! The new interface moves forward our ongoing efforts to unify the research experience across all of the SIRS products.

Learn all the details on this recorded webinar from Product Manager Larry Wilkner on what you can expect from the new design including:

SIRS Issues Researcher Preview

Mobile-Friendly:
The new design is intuitive and easy to navigate on any device, from Chromebooks to smartphones.

Improved Homepage and Leading Issues:
The fresh, clean interface includes Essential Questions to frame each issue, overview for background and context, viewpoints with supporting articles, and full results set for deeper research and analysis.

The Same Great Content:
One thing that isn’t changing is the comprehensive, editorially-selected content that sets SIRS apart.

Learn More

Comment at #ProQuest or let us know your feedback by commenting below.

Webinars Offer Sneak Peek at the New SIRS Issues Researcher

new

SIRS Issues Researcher is getting a makeover! 

Join host Larry Wilkner, Product Manager for ProQuest, to preview the new SIRS Issues Researcher user interface update that is coming August 2016!

Choose from three webinar sessions for your convenience.

Sign up by clicking on the date and time that work best for you. Learn all about the additional benefits to students, teachers and librarians, and have your questions answered by our expert.

All times are EST.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Learn in these webinars how the new interface moves forward our ongoing efforts to unify the research experience across all of the SIRS products.

How Do We Solve All These Problems?

digital media

Digital Media Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Solving the world’s problems. That’s a very challenging task. There are so many variables and so many points of view. So many different interests to consider. But with critical examination of all the angles, and new ideas, nothing’s impossible! SIRS Issues Researcher has been helping guide the way through the world’s toughest issues for a very long time. Each year it gets better. Today it covers approximately 330 separate and sometimes related, but always sharply debated, issues. Coming soon, it will provide an all-new, exciting, and intuitive environment for elucidating young problem solvers in schools everywhere.  We’ll keep you posted on that.

Learn more about SIRS Issues Researcher today, or many of our other exceptional ProQuest resources, by joining one of our monthly public webinars.  If you don’t see the class you’re interested in, contact us , and we’ll be happy to arrange a meeting to discuss the resources you’re interested in learning!