Health and Science Section

Every Tuesday, the HEALTH & SCIENCE section helps readers make sense of the many products, claims and studies that emerge daily. Through lively, sometimes humorous, but always rigorously researched stories, we try to separate the truths from the half-truths to help people make smarter HEALTH & SCIENCE care choices for themselves and their families.

We strip away the jargon to help readers understand the cutting-edge science and technology that affects their lives. Our columnists and reporters tackle topics such as the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, alternative energy, rockets and dinosaurs. The clear, fun graphics of the weekly feature “Urban Jungle” are a great way for students to understand the changing natural world at our doorsteps.

Whether we are exploring the effect of binge drinking on teen brains or explaining how touch screens actually work, our approach is one that you’ll probably want to encourage in your students.

We practice some basic principles in reporting on HEALTH & SCIENCE:

We insist on getting information from the most reliable sources—the respected authorities in a particular field and the most solid studies in peer-reviewed medical journals.

We’re fiercely independent of any commercial interest or advocacy group.

We respect our readers’ demand for good science, clear jargon-free language and well-labeled illustrations.

How could your students make use of the HEALTH & SCIENCE section? In the process of doing one of the following, they will become more critical readers and thinkers. Suggested tasks include:

-Report on stories that affect their lives directly, such as stories on concussions in youth sports, school lunches or the epidemic of    childhood obesity.
-Read the archives, the Checkup blog ( or participate in online chats with the HEALTH & SCIENCE sources and reporters.
-Distinguish claims from facts, labeling both where they find them.
-Describe the sequence of a physical exercise or scientific procedure.
-Evaluate whether, based on a report, a product seems worth their money.
-Begin a HEALTH & SCIENCE column in their school newspaper. Use one of the HEALTH & SCIENCE columns as a model. Students could share their personal stories about how an activity or practice has improved their lives in ways large and small.

Online at, teachers will find curriculum guides that cover many subject areas.  Here are a few that are HEALTH & SCIENCE related:

“Insects That Bug Us:” Beginning with research on insects such as bedbugs, stink bugs, beetles, borers and ants, students may engage in scientific and journalistic writing and create field guides, wanted posters and display cases.

“Let’s Move:” The national initiative to combat childhood obesity is the catalyst for articles and activities in this guide.

“The Sea—Rich and Strange:” Students will learn about sustainability, environmental impact and supply and demand in lessons in subjects ranging from science to art to economics.

Highlights of Health and Science

AnyBODY. Figuring out what helps—and harms—your body.

Consumer Reports Insights. Advice from Consumer Reports on everything from HEALTH & SCIENCE clubs to the most nutritious berries.

Field of Inquiry. Q and A’s with people in science.

The Green Lantern. An environmental column that is produced by the Web magazine

Science News. Weekly shot of news and notes.

Science Scan. The latest books, Web sites, television specials and DVDs.

How and Why. Explaining new technology.

Insuring Your Health. Understanding your health insurance options.

Medical Mysteries. The stories of patients with puzzling symptoms and how they got resolved.

Quick Study. Weekly digest of new research on major HEALTH & SCIENCE topics.

Urban Jungle. Graphics that explain the changing natural world at our doorsteps.

Get Acquainted with Health and Science


A basic mission of a newspaper is to inform the public. Every Tuesday, HEALTH & SCIENCE appears in The Post. This section is dedicated to examining the many facets of life that comprise personal HEALTH & SCIENCE

These exercises are designed to acquaint students with the HEALTH & SCIENCE section. In preparation for Level 3, cut or print out and mount the cover story picture(s) from the HEALTH & SCIENCE section. Pictures appearing with the cover story article on the inside of the section can also be mounted or projected.

Use your professional judgment. The HEALTH & SCIENCE Section cover story can be reserved when topics are developmentally appropriate to the students’ level of understanding.


1.  The cost of health care and medicines remains an issue of  concern for many families. Have students read the following HEALTH & SCIENCE features: Quick Study, Insuring Your Health, The Health Scan, and Letters. Reinforce the purpose and focus of each.

Have students categorize the information into

 •Useful information for students;

•Useful information for parents;

•Useful information for grandparents.

Articles in HEALTH & SCIENCE are often shared with family and friends. Have students select one item to share with a parent, neighbor or other adult in the community. Why does the student think this information will be of interest?


2.  Have students track the Science Scan, Science News, and Health Scan features over a the period of a month and keep a journal of unfamiliar words.   As often as possible, assist students in using context to define these words in their own terms. Simple definitions of purely technical terminology should be given to students if (1) the context is of no help and (2) the word is important to understanding the article. Also encourage students to identify words from their journal that begin with a familiar prefix or end with a familiar suffix.  By knowing the meaning of the prefix or suffix and identifying the root word, are they able to come up with a definition?  


3.  Use an LCD or interactive white board to display the cover picture from HEALTH & SCIENCE.  Ask students to carefully study the picture and to create a cover story headline based on the picture(s). Students should be reminded that this section focuses on HEALTH & SCIENCE and its impact on society.  Consequently, their suggested headline should be HEALTH & SCIENCE-related and justified by references to information gathered from the picture study.

After students come to a consensus on one or two “best” headlines, share the actual headline. How close was their prediction? An exact word-for-word match is not the goal.

Rather, how closely does the class headline capture the feature article’s topic or issue as reflected in the photograph selected to illustrate it? Does the photograph illustrate society’s perception of the topic or the author’s thesis?

After facilitating a reading and discussion of the HEALTH & SCIENCE cover story, ask students to propose a moral or philosophical question that is related to and/or raised by the article. For example, a feature on advances in medical technology most often used in maintaining the body functions of “brain dead” patients can raise the issue of euthanasia. A story about the long-term effects of atomic radiation as studied through Hiroshima survivors can generate a debate surrounding the quick end brought to World War II versus the prospect of longer, more costly, more global conventional fighting.

Once the issue-question is defined, ask students to contribute facts and viewpoints to a “Pro and Con” list. Prior knowledge as well as information from the cover story can be used to contribute to the lists. The two lists will act as the basis upon which each student is to develop two brief statements (3-5 paragraphs each) responding to the issue-question: one “Pro” and one “Con.”

As with the creation of the “Pro and Con” lists, information researched from other sources can be used to develop these statements.

Extension: Students may be invited to organize into debate teams to present their statements. In such a presentation, however, each team should be ready to challenge the viewpoints and information presented by the opposing team as well as to defend their own position during rebuttal.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English Language Arts, Students will read, use, and identifythe characterisitics of functional documents.


English, The student will comprehend what is read from a variety of sources. Evaluate and  synthesize information from to apply in oral presentations.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 5, Language as Meaning Making, The student develops understanding and produces written work that restates or summarizes information.

Fundamental Skill:

Reinforce Interacting

Sub-skill Reinforcement

Following directions, locating information, categorizing, evaluating, analyzing, drawing conclusions, developing visual imagery

Health, the Individual and Society


This section focuses on HEALTH & SCIENCE and its impact on society. Understanding how articles about HEALTH & SCIENCE relate to their personal lives might be difficult for younger HEALTH & SCIENCE students. The exercises that follow present ways to get students to consider how HEALTH & SCIENCE issues and concepts relate to their lives.

Have students scan the HEALTH & SCIENCE section to prepare for the following exercises.


1.  Organize the class into groups of four or five students. Ask each group to scan the headlines and pictures in the HEALTH & SCIENCE section and choose three articles that the group feels will have the most to say to students of their age.

To assist in this exercise, the following statement can be completed for each of the selected articles: We believe __________________ will have a lot to say to us because __________________. In reading this article, we hope to learn these two things:



Consider modeling how to complete the assignment before asking students to begin their group work. For example, We believe “Popcorn Earns Praise From Nutritionists” will have a lot to say to us because we like to eat popcorn at the movies. In reading this article, we hope to learn these two things:

1. What makes corn pop?

2. Why popcorn is good for us. After reading the article, have students complete these statements:

In reading this article, we learned these two facts:



We do/do not need to change our habits because


2.  At one time, the full title of the HEALTH & SCIENCE section was: “A Weekly Journal of Medicine, Health, Science and Society.”

Consider including the following exercise as a part of a class discussion that will define “society” and examine its connection to public HEALTH & SCIENCE.

Draw two large, intersecting circles on the chalkboard. Write “society” above one circle and “HEALTH” above the other.



With which of the two terms does each of the following words have the strongest association?

medicine                       laws

doctors                         prescriptions

government                   experiments

drugstores                    families

protection                     disease

research                       Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

cities                             neighborhoods

Write each word in the appropriate circle. If the class agrees that the association is equally strong or if the class is split on the association, place the word in the circles’ intersection.

Other vocabulary may be added to the words to be associated. However, more than arriving at “correct” answers, the purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate the close relationship between health and the structure that protects the health of people who have chosen to live together in groups.

After they have read the cover story in HEALTH & SCIENCE, ask students to explain the impact of HEALTH & SCIENCE issues on the individual and what the individual might expect from the government and community. Is the focus of the article an individual’s issue and personal decision or is it one that government might be expected to supervise or legislate to protect citizens?


3.  Use the current or a previous edition of the cover story in HEALTH & SCIENCE to illustrate how writers will often add sidebars or boxed “sub-articles” to the feature story to explain a concept, procedure or fact related to the primary article. For example, a previous HEALTH & SCIENCE article on the effects of radiation also contained a boxed article on the same page explaining how radiation is measured. Another feature article on chemical warfare was supplemented by a sub-article on what tear gas does to the body. As another example, the same HEALTH & SCIENCE section carried a story titled “Official Adoptions Are Increasing Among Blacks.” An appropriate sub-article might describe the standard steps necessary to adopt a child.

Have students read the cover story or a feature article in the current edition of HEALTH & SCIENCE. As they read, they should be alert to topics related to the article about which they would like more specific information. Students are to choose one of these sub-topics and develop a brief, related article. When submitted, the student-article (complete with boxing) should be accompanied by the article it is intended to upplement.

Obviously, the composition of such a sub-article will require research beyond the reading of the HEALTH & SCIENCE story.

Extension: Many of the cover stories also have illustrations to assist comprehension and to explain procedures. Another week, students could be asked to create an illustration to accompany the cover story or an article within HEALTH & SCIENCE.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English Language Arts, Students will identify and use text features to facilitate understanding of informational texts.


English, Grade 4, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of nonfiction. Use organizers, such as type, headings, and graphics to predict and categorize information.

Washington, D.C.

Science, Grade 4, Life Science, The student examines the FDA recommendations and other data to know that food provides energy and materials for growth and repair of body parts.

Fundamental Skill:

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, categorizing, comparing and contrasting, drawing conclusions, decision making

Small Steps to Health


Students will read articles that address fitness and articles focusing on nutrition. Understanding the essential concepts about nutrition and diet, understanding the relationship of family health to individual health, maintaining mental and emotional health, and knowing essential concepts and practices concerning injury prevention and safety are all part of national health standards.


1.  Over a series of weeks have students print out the AnyBODY column found in HEALTH & SCIENCE. They may read the articles and become familiar with the content, but wait to do this exercise when they have several examples from which to select.

Have students select one of the columns as a model for a column they would like to write. They are to follow the format.

Students are to choose their own topic and write a column. Ask them to give it their own title.

You may have students practice their keyboarding skills to prepare the columns for publishing. Students may read their columns to the class or post them on a HEALTH & SCIENCE Issues bulletin board.


2.  Direct students’ attention to the articles in HEALTH & SCIENCE that focus on diet and nutrition. Guide students in a reading of the articles, giving particular attention to personal implications for eating and/or exercise habits. Each student should be asked to decide which of the articles speaks most strongly to him or her. Though some students may not mind sharing and explaining their choice, this should not be required of all students.

Students are to write a letter to that person whom they feel would be in the best position to support them as they change their eating habits or increase their physical activity to become more HEALTH & SCIENCEy. This might be the cafeteria manager who makes up the school menu. The person might be the family member who buys the groceries and/or cooks the meals. The letter might be addressed to the school’s physical education teacher. Based on information gained from the HEALTH & SCIENCE article, the letter should:

•Explain the change that is wanted,

•Explain why the change would be good for the writer,

•List specific changes the receiver of the letter is being asked to do to help bring this change about.


3.  Have students imagine that they have been chosen as one of the student representatives on the President’s Council for Physical Fitness. In preparation for their service, they are to research HEALTH & SCIENCE articles suggesting nutrition, fitness and general HEALTH & SCIENCE concerns of importance to adolescents. This would include any indication of trends within this age group regarding increasing HEALTH & SCIENCE problems or, perhaps, increasing tendencies toward better eating and fitness practices.

Though many formats are possible, the “brief” prepared for presentation to the Council might be organized into three sections:

•“HEALTH & SCIENCE Issues Impacting on the Adolescent of the Twenty-first Century”

•“Trends in Adolescent HEALTH & SCIENCE,” and

•“Recommended Presidential (National) Response(s).”


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading, Students will demonstrate their ability to read for information by examining, constructing and extending meaning from articles, editorials, content texts and other expository materials related to the content areas.


Government, The student will understand that thoughtful and effective participation in civic life is characterized by keeping informed about current issues.

Washington, D.C.

History, Grade 3, Social Diversity and Social Change, The student summarizes local and community issues found in current events (newspaper articles, periodicals, magazines and journals).

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Developing Positive Attitudes and Personal Interests

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, identifying, analyzing, categorizing, decision making, drawing conclusions, evaluating