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Teaching News is Elementary


Program Content for September 26, 2014

Each week, this lesson will share some classroom activity ideas that use the newspaper or other NIE resources.  You are encouraged to modify this lesson to fit the needs of your students.  For example, some classrooms may be able to use this as a worksheet and others might need to ask and answer the questions in a class discussion. 

Please be sure to preview all NIE content before using it in your classroom to ensure it is appropriate for all of your students.

Materials you will need for this lesson: The Seattle Times e-Edition

Library or computer access for research

Article: “India’s Mars trip cost less than recent film, ‘Gravity’”

Page: A1 and A7

Date: Thursday, September 25, 2014


Pre- Reading Discussion Questions: 


Look at the title and the photograph on page A7. Why do you think the people look so happy in the photograph? Why is it notable that a trip to Mars cost less than a film? Why do you think the article cites the trip being less expensive than the film ‘Gravity’ in particular?




Read the following quotes and determine the meaning of the word based on how it’s used in the sentence:


An Indian spacecraft affectionately nicknamed MOM reached Mars orbit Wednesday, beating India’s Asian rivals to the Red Planet and outdoing the Americans, the Soviets and the Europeans in doing so on a maiden voyage and a shoestring budget.


(maiden voyage: first or earliest trip)

(shoestring: small amount of money)


 An ebullient Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on hand at the Indian Space Research Organization’s command center in Bangalore for the morning event and hailed it ‘as a shinning symbol of what we are capable of as a nation.’


(lively and enthusiastic)

The country’s most important export is the cheap brainpower of its engineers, based in technology centers like Bangalore and Hyderabad, who provide software and back-office operations for corporations around the world.


 (a product that is sent to another country to be sold there)


Journal Writing Prompts: 


“’The odds were stacked against us,’ Modi, wearing a red Nehru vest, said in a televised news conference. ‘When you are trying to do something that has not been attempted before, it is a leap into the unknown. And space is indeed the biggest unknown out there.”


Think of a time when the odds were faced against you. Did you take on the challenge? What did you do? What “leaps in the unknown” do you want to take? How can you use the example of India’s trip to Mars as inspiration?  


Discussion Questions:


Review the excerpt and discuss the following questions:


Children across India were asked to come to school by 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, well before the usual starting time, to watch the historic event on state television. The Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, was intended mostly to prove that India could succeed in such a highly technical endeavor—and to beat China.”


If you were asked to come to school at 6:45 a.m. to watch a historic event, would you? Why or why not? How do you feel about MOM’s mission to prove that India could beat China? What are other reasons countries send missions to space? Are these missions nobler than India’s? Why or why not?


Small group discussion and activity: 


“Of the 51 attempts to reach Mars, only 21 have succeeded, and none on any country’s first try, Modi noted. In 2012 China tried and failed, and in 1999, Japan also failed.”


Are you interested in space travel? Why or why not? Research other attempts to go to Mars and space in general. How are those missions similar to and different from India’s? Why is India’s mission so noteworthy? What did you learn about why other missions failed and India’s succeeded?



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