Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on May 26, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

AAPI Film Industry Successes

This year Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) made a great impact in the American film industry with an impressive slate of recent achievements, recognitions, and honors.

Chloe Zhao, the director of “Nomadland,” originally made headlines for being  the second female director–and the first woman of color–to win the Academy Award for Best Director. “Nomadland” also won the Best Picture Academy Award for 2021. In total, the film has won 34 awards for directing, 13 for screenplay, and 9 for editing. As a result, Zhao is now the most awarded filmmaker in a single awards season. At only 39 years old, she still has a long career ahead of her. Her next project is a Marvel movie, “Eternals,” which is very different from any of her past work. This spotlight movie has a huge crew, a big budget, and a reliance on special effects.

Steven Yeun is an AAPI actor who first got the country’s attention with his role on “The Walking Dead” television show (a role which he left behind five years ago). He is enjoying new attention this year thanks to his lead role in the film “Minari.” The new film is about a California man who uproots his family and moves them to a farm in rural Arkansas. “Minari” won several important awards at the Sundance Film Festival.Yeun was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Dig Deeper Do some additional research on the Internet to identify other examples of Asian American and Pacific Islander actors who have made a name for themselves in television and film. Pick one person and write a brief biography of their career.

China Lands Rover on Mars

On February 18, 2021, the United States successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars. The purpose of the rover is to search for signs of past microbial life on the planet. Now, China has also landed a rover of its own on the Red Planet. China is now the only country other than the U.S. to have successfully accomplished this.

The Chinese rover, called Zhurong, landed on May 14, 2021. It took 17 minutes to open up its solar panels to send a message back to China. Zhurong will spend the next 90 Martian days studying the local geology. It’s equipped with a camera, as well as instruments that will sample the rocks, weather, and other general features of the planet’s environment. It also uses radar to search for water or ice under the ground.

Zhurong is similar in looks and composition to American Mars rovers from the 2000s, Spirit and Opportunity. Zhurong is solar powered and weighs 530 pounds. In order to enter Mars’s atmosphere without getting burned up, it was encased in a heatproof aeroshell. A parachute opened to slow its descent as it approached the surface of the planet. Zhurong landed in Utopia Planitia, a vast basin that scientists think may have once held an ocean.

China has been ramping up its efforts in space recently. It has already sent rovers to the moon, and has launched the first part of a space station above Earth earlier this month. The European Space Agency, in conjunction with Russia, also plans to launch a rover to Mars soon. Theirs is called the Rosalind Franklin and will be launched in 2022.

Dig Deeper What does the word “Zhurong” mean? Do you think that this a fitting name for the rover? Why or why not?

New Emphasis on Gardening

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people decided to take up gardening. Gardening–including urban gardening–has been shown to have many healthy effects, such as lowering stress levels, in addition to producing healthier food for families.

Gardening has become such a trend that many seed companies are overwhelmed with orders and are unable to fill them all. Seeing this as an opportunity, several African American-owned businesses have prioritized selling vegetable seed packets to bring more diverse people into gardening. Some are using crowdfunding to purchase seeds to give away to urban gardeners for free.

Why is this important? Because now more than ever, access to healthy food can be difficult at a time when communities of color face high unemployment rates because of the pandemic. Taking up this type of outdoor hobby can also help relieve stress. Gardening provides people with fresh air and exercise, as well as a cheaper way to eat well. This is especially vital in urban areas that may experience food deserts. (A food desert describes locations without easy access to grocery stores or markets.)

Dig Deeper Have you ever tried gardening? There are many solutions to gardening for those with limited space. Do some research on one of these techniques: container gardening, hydroponic gardening, or rooftop gardening. Then write a short informative paragraph about what you learn.

Ten-Year-Old Becomes Chess Champion

As of May 1, 2021, ten-year-old Tanitoluwa (“Tani”) Adewumi is the country’s newest national chess master. How does a person become a national chess master while still in elementary school? Adewumi’s secret is that he practices every day, sometimes for ten or eleven hours! He also has a gift for thinking ahead and can often strategize up to twenty moves in advance.

Young boys Playing Chess
©Sean De Burca/CORBIS

Adewumi’s young age isn’t the most amazing thing about his story. His family came to the U.S. from Nigeria, where they faced persecution from Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group. Adewumi’s father owned a printing shop there. His father was a Christian who was in danger of persecution by Boko Haram. So, the family escaped to Manhattan and were living in a homeless shelter there when Adewumi began learning to play chess. Since then, they have moved out of the shelter. In addition to his chess success, a book about Adewumi’s experiences has been written and may become a film.

Dig Deeper Though Adewumi is only ten, he’s not the youngest U.S. chess master by far. He’s only the 28th-youngest. Use Internet resources to learn about the youngest U.S. chess master of all time. How old was that person? What year did they receive that title?