CommonLit Secondary Classrooms 9 Mind-Blowing Texts About Discovery and Innovation

These texts about innovation are sure to get your students thinking creatively!

Learning about new inventions and discoveries is a powerful tool to promote creativity and leadership with students. These informational texts about groundbreaking research will empower students to create solutions to problems they see in their communities and in the world!

High Hopes and Extreme Plans to Save Northern White Rhinos” by Jacqueline Pratt-Tuke (6th Grade)

White rhinos are amazing mammals that live in Africa. But did you know that they are in danger of going extinct? In this informational text, the author presents artificial insemination as a solution to this problem. Despite its potential benefits, scientists question the ethics of manipulating the natural world. After reading, students can discuss their opinions on human interference in nature.

The Related Media tab for the CommonLit text "High Hopes and Extreme Plans to Save Northern White Rhinos."
Related Media videos are a great way to extend students’ thinking.

Can We Teach Robots Ethics?” by BBC News (8th Grade)

This article discusses the morality of self-driving cars. As robots have taken over more and more human roles, ethical questions have arisen. Do we trust robots to make decisions that can influence life or death? Start a debate by asking Discussion Question 1, “In the text, issues surrounding self-driving cars on the road are considered. What are the costs and benefits of self-driving cars? What costs and benefits can you think of that are not discussed in the text?”

Can DNA Editing Save Endangered Species?” by Kathiann Kowalski (8th Grade)

In this informational text, the author describes how a recent scientific development of editing an invasive organism’s DNA may help save endangered, native species. Have students discuss their thoughts on the ethical risks of eliminating an invasive species. Ask students if they think scientists have the right to genetically modify organisms.

The CommonLit text "Can DNA Editing Save Endangered Species?"
Guiding Questions help monitor students’ comprehension of the text.

Psst … Hey, You” by Mark Fischetti (8th Grade)

This informational text gives an overview of an interesting invention that uses ultrasound technology. Joseph Pompei created a speaker that can isolate and direct sound solely to intended listeners, which is now widely used in museums. To get students thinking critically, have them follow the annotation task as they read, which asks them to take notes on the potential uses and abuses of this invention.

Drones Put Spying Eyes in the Sky” by Stephen Ornes (9th Grade)

In this text, the author describes the many uses of drones and their benefits to society. Drones were first used in the military, but their uses have expanded over recent years. This article will get students thinking critically about how older technologies can be used in different ways. Ask students if they see any alternative uses for the technology they use day to day.

Young Innovators: Detecting Land Mines” by Robert Siegel (9th Grade)

In this interview, Marian Bechtel explains the inspiration behind her important invention. At age seventeen, Bechtel combined her passion for music and science to create a device that can detect landmines using sound waves. Bechtel’s accomplishment at such a young age will inspire students to innovate using their passions to spark ideas.

Human or Machine? A.I. Experts Reportedly Pass the “Turing Test" by Scott Neuman (10th Grade)

Can machines pose as humans? A computer program masquerading as a 13-year-old boy may be able to do so. This article reports on a computer program out of Russia that supposedly passed the Turing Test, a test designed to see if robots can trick humans into believing that they are human too. This article will prompt students to think about consciousness and what actually makes you who you are.

Can Machines Learn Morality?” by Randy Rieland (11th Grade)

Machines are becoming increasingly intelligent, but can they learn right from wrong? This informational text discusses what equipping machines with morality may look like as machines become more independent and take over human jobs. After reading, have students discuss the costs and benefits of the technological advances in the article.

Animal Emotions Stare Us in the Face — Are Our Pets Happy?” by Mirjam Guesgen (12th Grade)

In this text, the author describes recent scientific advances in animal facial recognition. Although we have a long way to go before we can identify our pets’ emotions, scientists have begun to identify pain in animals. Have students extend their thinking by asking Discussion Question 1, “In the text, the author discusses how understanding animals’ facial expressions could make the treatment of animals in labs and food production more ethical. Do you think being able to recognize distress in animals would change the ethics of testing on, or using, animals?”

Next Steps

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