Directions for teachers: Ask your students to read the online Science News article “From Elvis worms to the Milky Way’s edge, these science stories sparked joy in 2020,” which recounts scientific discoveries from 2020 that inspired wonder and awe. A version of the story, “Stories that sparked joy,” can be found in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News. After choosing the discovery that most interests them, students should use the Science News archive to find the original story about the discovery and answer the following questions. Note that example answers are based on the discovery of how tree snakes glide through the air. As a possible extension, students can reflect on something they learned in school this year that brought them joy.

1. After reading “From Elvis worms to the Milky Way’s edge, these science stories sparked joy in 2020, what discovery most interests you?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may say that they found the discovery of how paradise tree snakes glide through the air most interesting.

2. Why do you find the topic of this summary interesting? How does the topic make you feel? Explain.

Student answers will vary.

3. What did you learn from the summary?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may say that they learned the snakes can glide 10 meters or more by moving their bodies both side to side and up and down.

4. What questions do you have after reading the summary?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may wonder how paradise tree snakes launch themselves into the air, or how engineers determined that the snakes’ body movements help stabilize the reptiles in the air.

5. Use the Science News archive to find and read the original story about the discovery. What details in the original story were left out of the summary?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may say that the summary didn’t include details about the methods of the study or why the finding is important.

6. Did the same author write both articles? Why do you think the author of the summary may have left out certain details?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may say that they think the author left out details about methods because they weren’t necessary to get across the main finding in such a short summary.

7. Did the original story answer questions you may have had after reading the summary?

Student answers will vary. As an example, students may say that the original story answered the questions they had. Tree snakes leap and flatten their bodies to lift themselves into the air. And the researchers used a combination of observations and computer simulations to identify the movements the snakes use to glide.

Possible extension

8. Describe something you learned in science this year that made you happy. Explain what it was, and why it had that effect on you.

Student answers will vary.

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