TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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February 19, 2018
One of the biggest names from Team USA at the Winter Olympics is Maame Biney. She is only 18 and has explosive speed on the ice. She came to the United States from Ghana when she was 5 years old and became the first African-American woman ever to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speedskating team on the short track speed skating. Her father is with her in South Korea, where she is competing against the best speed skaters in the world. Listen to this story to hear Biney describe herself on the ice.
February 16, 2018
Instead of going to a restaurant to pick up food, you can have it delivered to your home. That’s nothing new. But some restaurants are experimenting with using a robot to deliver orders. The robot is equipped with cameras that allow it to observe the street signs, lights, and roads around them to know how and when to cross streets. Some fear this invention may replace jobs held by people, but the company says they are not a replacement for humans. Listen to learn the capabilities of these delivery robots and then debate: Are deliveries by robots a good idea?
February 15, 2018
In Spain, Catholics remember the patron saint of animals, San Anton, with a festival that celebrates pets. Dogs, cats, birds, and sheep are walked down the streets in the arms of their owners. The pet owners travel to church so that their pets can be blessed. Many have looked to San Anton to help with their animals, and many believe it is important to have a day celebrating this saint. Listen to learn about the variety of animals involved and how they react to the pet blessing.
February 14, 2018
The Olympic sport of skeleton involves athletes tobogganing through an icy path at extreme speeds. Some athletes love the rush of running onto the ice then relaxing their bodies enough so that they can focus on the curves ahead on the track. To observers of the sport, it is terrifying to see someone going this fast with what seems like no control. Listen to learn what it feels like for these athletes and what type of athlete is ideal for the sport of skeleton.
February 13, 2018
You can tell a lot from a tiger’s roar. A researcher in Texas is using the sound of tigers’ vocalizations to track and protect them in national parks and in the wild around the world. By monitoring tigers acoustically, researchers can track their location and know whether a tiger is a male or female, its weight, and other characteristics. Listen to learn why this project is helping tigers in captivity and in the wild.
February 12, 2018
Many children, teens, and adults spend a lot of time looking at screens. Whether it’s an addiction or merely troubling behavior, too much screen time can interfere with other activities, create changes in your mood, and cause other problems. A former executive from Google was so concerned about the public health risks of too much screen time, he started a company that tries to inform people about how addictive technology can be. Listen to learn how companies are responding to the growing concerns about too much technology.
February 11, 2018
While you cheer on your favorite athletes in Pyeongchang, you can take part in our Listenwise Listening Olympics!
When to listen: Monday February 12 - Friday February 23
When to take the quiz: Friday February 23 - Friday March 2
Contest ends: 11:59 pm EST on March 2
Be sure to play this audio of the Listening Olympics Opening Ceremony today with your class! Students can take our fun Listening Olympics quiz from Friday, February 23rd through March 2nd to see how well they listened. In the Olympic spirit, we will award Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to contest participants based on the top quiz scores and highest student participation! You could win Bose headphones, a set of classroom headphones or Listenwise swag. More information available!
February 9, 2018
In Thailand, female monks, known as bhikkhunis, are not allowed. Many believe that there is corruption among the male monks and villagers have come to welcome the female monks. They believe an increase in female monks would create a fairer system with more respect for the role. Listen to learn how ordained female monks see themselves compared to male monks and then debate: Should women be allowed to be religious leaders in any faith?
February 8, 2018
In North Korea, most citizens are not allowed to leave the country. However, for the Winter Olympics hosted in South Korea, the North Korean regime is permitting athletes to compete. North and South Korea will be united under one flag, and a pair of figure skaters from North Korea has qualified for the games. The International Olympic Committee gave them quota places, a rarely-used form of wild card, to allow them to compete since they missed the registration deadline. Many people are looking forward to a cultural exchange and interaction between North and South Korea. Listen to learn more about these North Korean figure skaters who will compete in the Olympics.
February 7, 2018
Permafrost is frozen soil that has preserved things such as ancient animal bones and centuries-old icebergs. Permafrost contains twice as much carbon as is currently in Earth's atmosphere and it also preserves old bacteria. When it's defrosted the bacteria eats dead plants and animals turning their carbon into gases such as carbon dioxide. As the permafrost warms, the microbes are releasing gases contributing to further warming. Listen to learn more about this warming cycle.
February 6, 2018
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that exists only on computers and allows people to conduct financial transactions online that allow users to send currency back and forth. Recently, Bitcoin has been making headlines for its role in the stock market and how it has changed since its start in 2011. It is also showing how businesses don't need a physical product to make money. Listen to learn what type of people Bitcoin appeals to and the rules behind it.
February 5, 2018
Some people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children spend their days teaching students, many of whom might also be in the country without legal immigrant status. These recipients of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, are working in American schools and are uncertain whether they can can continue to live or work in the United States. One teacher finds it difficult to talk with her students about an uncertain future. Listen to learn what could happen to DACA recipients and how this teacher has become resilient.
February 2, 2018
Cell phones have become a significant distraction for students and teachers in classrooms across the country. Administrators are trying a variety of ways to limit the use of cell phones. Some teachers take it upon themselves to take away students’ phones in their classrooms. Other schools have invested in soft pouches that lock up the phones during the school day. Listen to learn how students are reacting to these changes and then debate: Should schools hold student cell phones?
February 1, 2018
The Winter Olympics are starting soon, and in an historic breakthrough, Communist North Korea will send some athletes and a cheering squad to participate in the games, which are being held in the neighboring country of South Korea. The government of South Korea decided to welcome the North and agreed to walk under one flag and even combine athletes on the women’s ice hockey team. But North and South Korea have a frosty relationship and now people in South Korea are protesting the cooperation for the games. Listen to learn why leaders in South Korea are supporting this alliance and how it looks to the rest of the world.
January 31, 2018
Online courses provide access to a variety of topics and can be accessed at any time by learners. One professor believes that by taking courses online people are missing out on visual art education. To combat this, she started a website with courses that delve deep into how art is made, in addition to offering online critiques that help people improve their craft. By becoming involved in her work, this professor has developed her mental flow and wants to show others how to get to this point by connecting with materials. Listen to learn why mental flow is essential for understanding another side to art.
January 30, 2018
In a meeting to discuss immigrants from Haiti, Africa and Central America, President Trump said he believes the United States grants entry to too many people from these countries and instead should focus on welcoming immigrants from countries such as Norway. These comments came as a shock to many. But America once had a visa program based on national origin. Listen to learn what happened to this program and how Trump's comments could affect the multicultural identity of America.
January 29, 2018
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is considered a major holiday in China and celebrated by many other Asian countries. In the U.S., Asian immigrants celebrate by giving gifts of cash in red envelopes to family and friends. The amount of money given in these red envelopes can vary. Asian Americans and immigrants who didn’t grow up in this tradition worry over how much money to give. Listen to learn about this popular tradition and how it is similar to other holidays.
January 26, 2018
Electronic toys for children have existed since the 1950s. However, new toys are causing privacy concerns for parents as well as politicians. A new device called Aristotle was created to help children by learning their behavior and providing soothing responses. But after many parents expressed concern about the amount of information the toy would be collecting, the manufacturer stopped production. Listen to learn more about this invention and then debate: Should children play with electronic toys that collect data?
January 25, 2018
An experienced marine biologist who has worked with whales for many years, was terrified when a humpback whale took her under its fin. Suddenly, she was being rolled around by the whale and forced to hold onto its head. But the scientist then realized there was a very good reason for this strange behavior. Listen to learn how her story made front page news and what happened to her a few days after the story broke.
January 24, 2018
Supernovas happen at the end of a star’s life and then they fade away. Scientists are struggling to explain why one supernova has lasted for the past three years. During research, scientists found documentation from the 1950s that indicate this supernova was long-lasting back then. This discovery is challenging the established theories of how stars evolve. Listen to learn how scientists are rethinking their theories about supernova.
January 23, 2018
Some adolescents in America can be influenced by ISIS recruiting groups. These groups exploit the teen’s sense of duty, religious obligation, or desire to belong to a group. Vulnerable high school students might be convinced that they need to go to Syria to fight with ISIS against the Syrian regime. One experimental rehabilitation program has been established to help young people who have been recruited by ISIS understand how they were targeted. Listen to learn one teen’s story and how this new rehab program worked for him.
January 22, 2018
In 2001, earthquakes devastated El Salvador. Former President George W. Bush implemented a humanitarian program that allowed some Salvadorans to live and work in America temporarily. The Temporary Protected Status has been regularly renewed since then. Last week, the Trump Administration announced it would be ending the program. This affects about 200,000 people who have been living, working, and paying taxes in the United States for 17 years. They will return to a country with few jobs and one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Listen to learn more about the impact of ending this program.
January 19, 2018
A village in India has gotten the reputation for being very clean. Mawlynnong's residents try to make sure their houses and streets are spotless. Now many visitors come to see this sparkling clean village. Listen to this story and think about whether you think cleanliness is hereditary or influenced by surroundings and then debate: Are people born messy or clean?
January 18, 2018
In the many Central and South American traditions, the quinceañera is a celebration of a 15-year old girl’s birthday. It recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. A new TV documentary series highlights young women celebrating their quinceañeras, and how important this tradition is to the family and heritage. The stories also relate to their life in America right now. Listen to learn about one girl's preparation for her quinceañera.
January 17, 2018
Paleontologists now have proof, as a result of a recent discovery of fossil remains, that giant penguins existed long before whales even entered the ocean. It's an ancient species of penguin that swam off the coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago, soon after dinosaurs became extinct. The smaller penguins we know today stem from prehistoric penguins that were once the size of a human. Listen to learn why these animals went extinct and the timeline of their existence.
January 16, 2018
Being homeless means continually wondering what you will eat and where you will sleep at night. In some cases this means homeless people break laws by sleeping in public spaces because there isn’t room at a shelter. In Texas, community courts have been established to help homeless people manage tickets they have gotten for breaking the law. In exchange for waiving the tickets for public sleeping, they take part in community service. Listen to learn what local people are trying to do to help rather than hurt those living on the street.
January 15, 2018
It was recently revealed that the U.S. Pentagon has investigated sightings by the U.S. Military of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Through satellites and sensors, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program would watch videos from pilots to decipher whether the unknown sightings were from another country or perhaps another planet. The head of the program says that scientific research was used to find out if there was a threat to the U.S. but not all of the phenomena could be explained. Listen to learn how a team of analysts worked with pilots to uncover whether UFOs exist in our skies.
January 12, 2018
China has passed a new law that states people who protest its national anthem can face prison time. In places like Hong Kong, this law has sparked outrage. They believe that by singing the anthem, they are giving in to China's rule and lack of free speech. Legislators in Hong Kong are facing the dilemma of how they will enforce the new law, especially when masses of people refuse to sing the anthem, such as at a sports event. Listen to learn how those who oppose the law plan to get around it and then debate: Would you risk arrest for something you believe in?
January 11, 2018
Fake news spreads quickly across the Internet resulting in fictional stories shared by millions of people. Facebook, one of the largest social media networks, is trying to combat fake news by hiring journalists to uncover false stories shared across its platform. One person hired to fact-check flagged posts spends her days filing reports that debunk stories shared across Facebook. However, the communication between Facebook and the journalists lacks transparency and journalists are asking for more help. Listen to learn about what is needed to combat fake news.
January 10, 2018
Refugees are people forced to leave their home country when it is no longer safe. They start new lives in places that usually have different languages, cultures, and practices from where they lived. When refugees arrive in the United States, they need to learn new customs and adapt to their surroundings while trying to find a job and a begin a new life. Some people have never used a refrigerator or cooked some of the food found in American grocery stores. Listen to this story about how some refugees are learning the skills needed to get through everyday life.
January 9, 2018
Wet wipes began as baby products, but now people use them for many things including makeup removal and applying insect repellent. As more people find uses for disposable wet wipes, more of them end up in the toilet. However, even if the company says they are flushable, they aren't always. Wet wipes are causing blockages in sewer systems around the country. Companies that label their wipes as flushable are suing states that have created standards for flushability. Listen to learn where your wet wipes go and how wastewater plants are using a form of forensics to uncover which companies are clogging up the pipes.
January 8, 2018
Prank calls, fake bomb threats, and hoax 911 calls are nothing new. But a new and extremely dangerous prank has put law enforcement on alert. "Swatting" is when someone calls 911 to report a fake shooting, kidnapping, or other dangerous situation so that a SWAT team will show up to a residence. A few weeks ago in Wichita, Kansas, a man was killed by a SWAT team after a hoax 911 call reported that the man was holding his family at gunpoint. Listen to learn about new legislation that members of Congress are proposing to combat these incidents.
January 5, 2018
In the fight against global poverty, there have been a lot of experiments. Organizations have tried to give seeds, job training, or education to help move people out of poverty. In a rural village in Western Zambia, a small but steady stream of cash was given to people who needed it. Giving the people money with no strings attached has resulted in incredible results. Listen to this story and debate: Can giving cash ease poverty?
January 4, 2018
There have always been rumors that Apple purposely slows down the batteries in their phones to get their customers to buy the latest iPhone. Now, Apple is admitting it does slow down old iPhones, but not to sell more products. Despite admitting to slowing down phones, Apple's loyal customer base did not hesitate to purchase Apple products this holiday season. Listen to learn why Apple slows down the batteries in iPhones and how important public relations are to a company's reputation.
January 3, 2018
People communicate in many ways on their cell phones. Twenty-five years ago, cell phones weighed 4 pounds and were only used to make and receive telephone calls. The first text message was transmitted Dec. 3, 1992, changing the way people communicate. Listen to hear more about how phone technology has evolved.
January 2, 2018
Mosul, Iraq is now free from ISIS control, after years of violent occupation. ISIS militants killed or displaced thousands of people. Some stayed in their homes during the siege waiting for the group to be forced out. For some young Iraqi women, education or marriage was not possible until now. Now there is freedom to attend Mosul University and to travel, but there are still some things women in Iraq are not free to do. Listen as two sisters who attend Mosul University talk about their different goals for the future, how they plan to follow their passion, and the obstacles that remain.
December 22, 2017
Many boys and girls have wondered how Santa Claus delivers toys to every child in one night. This story takes a scientific approach to answering that question. Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how Santa avoids burning up in the atmosphere when going at the speed of light, and how the reindeer might be more technically equipped than we think. Listen to learn about the military program that has been tracking Santa for years and information about Santa that you might not know.
December 21, 2017
The holiday known as Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage and culture and is observed for seven days, ending on January 1. The holiday includes lights, a feast, and gift-giving, and surrounds the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Kwanzaa was created within the last century and has gone through changes in who celebrates it and how it is observed. Now, more religions are celebrating the holiday than initially intended. Listen to learn about how Kwanzaa began and how it has changed.
December 20, 2017
The Santa Ana winds are making it extremely difficult for firefighters to control the range of the wildfires in Southern California. The fires have burned more than 272,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. These wildfires have caused many scientists to revisit the discussions over climate change as the United State’s western coast has continuously been battling floods, earthquakes, and wildfires throughout the entire year. Listen to hear what these fires indicate for future weather patterns.
December 19, 2017
Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Religious leaders from all these traditions have strong feelings about this holy land. In an historic move, President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is moving the U.S. Embassy there. This issue has long been debated by religious leaders in Palestine, and all around the world. The announcement led to violence between Israel and Palestine and may undermine the peace process. Listen to how religious leaders from various faiths are reacting to the President’s decision.