Is He Alive?

Z: Mom, I have to write a report about a living black scientist.

K: When I was at the gym last night, I saw one on Jon Stewart. (K knows the show has a name, but she can never remember it.)

Neil something.

Z: Is he alive?

K: He was on the Jon Stewart show.

Z laughs.

K: He’s doing some program called “Pluto Files.”

K finds the scientist’s full name --Neil DeGrasse Tyson-- and saves it to a blank Word document.

Z: Thanks, mom.

A Few Days Later

K: You have to write about the scientist.

Z: How much do I have to write?

K: What does the assignment sheet say?

Z can’t find the sheet so he texts a classmate. By the time he returns, K has found the sheet in his unorganized notebook.

Z: 250-500 words.

K: Yeah, and you have to include these points listed here.

Z: OK. Z pastes Dr. Tyson’s name into Bing.

K: K doesn’t want to fool around with Bing; it’s too new to her. Google his name plus PBS.

Z continues scrolling down the list as if he doesn’t hear her.

K: Don’t choose just any ole [read old] site. Make sure it’s reputable.

Z: How you know PBS is reputable?

K: I trust PBS.

Z: Here’s his official site.

K: That’s even better. This assignment makes it possible to plagiarize.

Z tells K a funny story about a classmate whom he believes plagiarized. Then he starts reading and paraphrasing.

Z: Mom, did I change this line enough?

K: Yes. Try to put it in your own words as much as possible without losing the facts. Make sure you list the sites you used.

Z: OK, I’ll put that at the bottom.