TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!

Learn More

Current Events

New current events added daily. Get Our Weekly Roundup.

MOST RECENT

May 24, 2020

:26

Weird News: Chalk Drawings Encourage Social Distancing

Listen to hear about a mother who creates chalk drawings reminding people to social distance.

Vocabulary: reminder, recreate

Read More

May 22, 2020

4:58

Debate: Should Colleges Open in the Fall?

Colleges and universities around the country have shut down during the pandemic, but many school leaders are considering how they might safely open their doors in the fall. In this audio story, the president of Brown University makes the case that welcoming kids back to campus is crucial, both for students and for the economy. Some, however, believe that the health risks associated with large groups of students living and learning together are too high. Listen to hear a university president describe her vision for an adapted college experience and then debate: Should colleges open in the fall?

Read More

May 21, 2020

3:23

Free Potatoes and the Disrupted Food Supply Chain

Because his usual customers were not buying his potatoes, an Idaho farmer dumped them in a heap two stories high and invited people to help themselves. Demand for his product dropped sharply as restaurants and other businesses closed during the pandemic. At the same time, many people could not get the food they needed. Many food producers are looking for new markets to sell their products, but the American food supply chain makes adaptation difficult. Listen to learn about the challenges facing farmers during the pandemic and why it is difficult to get their products to people who need them.

Read More

May 20, 2020

4:47

How the Pandemic May Influence Fashion

The pandemic is causing some people to rethink their fashion choices. They are wearing more casual clothing, shaving beards, trimming nails, and choosing stylish face masks. One fashion expert says that sweeping changes in style often happen during times of social disruption. Listen to hear how past wars have influenced American fashion, which styles are currently trending, and how people may choose to express themselves through clothing when public life opens up again.

Read More

May 19, 2020

4:06

Running While Black

A videotaped act of violence in Georgia has highlighted the challenges black men around the country face in their everyday lives. Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young black man, was shot by two white men who said they believed he was a burglar. Arbery was jogging when he was attacked and killed. Research shows that black men of all social classes often feel threatened as they go about their daily routines. Listen to a sociologist describe his research on what black men do to appear less threatening and how the threat they regularly feel impacts their lives.

Update: Since this story aired, Ahmaud Arbery’s attackers have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assalt.

Read More

May 18, 2020

6:25

Safety Tips for Resuming Contact

States are beginning to lift lockdown restrictions, and experts are weighing in on how people can stay safe as they return to normal activities. Many doctors advise that social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands continue to be the best ways to prevent the spread of infection. They especially warn against relaxing distancing guidelines as people start to mingle, and highly recommend outdoor gatherings rather than indoor events. Listen to hear a pastor’s plan for keeping worshippers safe when he reopens church, and how doctors recommend lowering the risk of virus transmission when socializing.

Read More

May 17, 2020

:25

Weird News: Robotic Baseball Fans

Listen to hear about why one baseball team is using robots to fill stadiums this season.

Vocabulary: robotic, mannequin

Read More

May 15, 2020

4:30

Debate: Should the Federal Government Manage the Pandemic Response?

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about how federal and state governments balance power and responsibility during a crisis. While the Constitution says that states have the authority to manage a health crisis, some people would like the federal government to step in and coordinate responses between the states, as it would during wartime. Listen to learn more about the powers of the president during a crisis and then debate: Should the federal government manage the pandemic response?

Read More

May 14, 2020

3:54

Addressing Health Care Inequities

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequities in Americans’ access to health care. Some people in underserved communities, including many black Americans, lacked adequate health insurance and access to doctors even before the pandemic. The virus has hit these vulnerable groups especially hard. A new nonprofit is working to bring resources into low-income communities so people disproportionately affected by the illness can get the help they need. Listen to learn more about the healthcare inequities exposed by the pandemic and how one organization is addressing them.

Read More

May 13, 2020

2:32

Discovering Neanderthal String

A recent discovery indicates that our prehistoric relatives may have been smarter than previously thought. A team of paleo-anthropologists, scientists who study the origins of early humans and their relatives, found a bit of string on a prehistoric tool. This artifact offers evidence that Neanderthals had developed an important technology for survival. Listen to learn how Neanderthals made string and why the find is changing views of their intelligence.

Read More

May 12, 2020

2:24

Kids' Reflections on the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of every American. As schools around the country have closed, students have faced enormous shifts in their routines, social lives, and in how they learn. In this audio story, students in elementary, middle, and high school reflect on their experiences during the pandemic. Listen to hear the voices of kids expressing fears, sharing coping strategies, and explaining what they have come to appreciate.

Read More

May 11, 2020

4:47

How Contact Tracing Works

A COVID-19 contact tracer tracks people who may have been exposed to the virus, but the work requires more than just detective skills. Contact tracers respond to the questions and concerns of people who may be ill, or who fear becoming ill, and help them plan for the immediate future. Contact tracers need to be able to quickly establish a bond of trust and show care for those facing the prospect of illness and quarantine. Listen to a public health doctor explain more about the important job of contact tracer and why people often feel relieved when a tracer calls.

Read More

May 10, 2020

:25

Weird News: Playful Parrot’s False Alarm

Listen to hear about a parrot who plays a trick on the police.

Vocabulary: recently, deputies, unnerving

Read More

May 8, 2020

7:33

Debate: Should Surveillance Technology Be Used for Contact Tracing?

Governments around the world are using surveillance technology to help keep citizens safe from the spread of the coronavirus. Collecting cell phone location data can help officials implement some of the most effective tools for containing the virus, including contact tracing. In some countries, however, the government’s use of personal data to track people’s movements is raising privacy concerns. Listen to learn how three different countries are tracking personal data to fight the pandemic and then debate: Should surveillance technology be used for contact tracing?

This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

May 7, 2020

3:47

The Role of the WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations agency that oversees public health worldwide. It offers advice and support to its member countries and coordinates scientific research and public health projects across borders. President Trump recently announced that the U.S. will stop funding the WHO, severely reducing the agency’s budget. Listen to learn more about the role of the WHO in protecting global health and how a withdrawal of funding could cripple its efforts.

Read More

May 6, 2020

6:34

Returning to a Different Earth from Space

An American astronaut is returning home to a very different Earth than the one she left seven months ago. Jessica Meir was living on the International Space Station, an orbiting science lab, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In preparing to head home, she considered the many changes she expected to find when she arrived, including restricted access to family and friends. Listen to hear Meir describe daily life on the space station and what she was most excited about doing when returning to Earth.

Update: Since this story aired, Jessica Meir returned safely to Earth and immediately entered a weeklong quarantine at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Read More

May 5, 2020

2:56

Snapping Shrimp Growing Louder

Snapping shrimp produce surprisingly loud noises by clicking their claws. The noises they make are so pronounced that they once led to a Navy investigation. Ocean warming is causing the snapping shrimp clicks to become even louder and more frequent. The increase in ocean noise from this and other human impacts can be disruptive to marine ecosystems where sound is important to survival. Listen to hear what snapping shrimp sound like and learn why their sounds might be helpful to some species and harmful to others.

Read More

May 4, 2020

3:28

The Uncertain Future of School

After months of closures due to COVID-19, school officials across the country are considering how schools can be reopened safely. Experts say that social distancing is the key to preventing the spread of disease, although that is especially challenging in crowded classrooms. Other countries have found ways to limit student contact through smaller class sizes, fewer students on the playground, and other strategies that could inform U.S. actions. Listen to hear how the school experience may change in the fall, and learn about some creative strategies for interacting safely. . This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

May 3, 2020

:27

Weird News: Pilot Lands In Tree

Listen to hear about a pilot who landed his plane on top of a tree.

Vocabulary: brace, impossible, rescue

Read More

May 1, 2020

4:43

Debate: Should Voting Procedures Change During a Pandemic?

States, political parties, and the federal government are considering how to hold safe elections this November during a pandemic. Many states have postponed their presidential primary elections or are allowing citizens to vote by mail. In the Wisconsin primary, there were long lines at the polls and fears about increasing the spread of COVID-19. Voters had to choose between maintaining social distance by staying home or risking their health while exercising their right to vote. Listen to this story about rules related to voting by mail and then debate: Should voting procedures change during a pandemic?

Read More

April 30, 2020

3:57

Coping Without a Job During the Pandemic

If you know someone who has lost a job because of the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. More than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits because of job cuts resulting from strict social distancing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many people are struggling financially and emotionally because of these job losses and other effects of social distancing restrictions. Listen to hear more about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy and what jobs might be in demand once social distancing is over.

This audio story was recorded in mid-April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

April 29, 2020

2:56

Handshakes May Be History

The spread of the novel coronavirus has indicated that the time-honored custom of shaking hands may be history. Handshaking began thousands of years ago as a peaceful greeting, and has been praised for its ability to bring people together as equals. In light of new rules of social distancing, however, some people are suggesting alternative greetings that continue to connect us while keeping us safe. Listen to learn how handshakes were once used to check for concealed weapons and why some people are happy to see the practice end.

Read More

April 28, 2020

2:30

Wolves Playing Fetch

The relationship between humans and dogs is a special one, and there are multiple theories about how it originated and how it has changed over time. All dogs evolved from wolves, and scientists are learning more about that evolutionary process through research about similarities and differences in the behavior of wolves and dogs. Listen to this story about a game of fetch and how it might inform scientists’ understanding of the history of the special relationship between species.

Read More

April 27, 2020

5:35

Conditions for Lifting Pandemic Restrictions

Millions of people in the U.S. are under strict social distancing restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The time length and requirements of these policies have been determined by governors, so they vary from state to state. Many people want to know when these restrictions will be lifted and what will make it safe to go back to school or eat at a local restaurant again. Listen to this story to hear a public health expert talk about what scientists and public health experts say will be necessary for normal life to resume.

This audio story was recorded in mid-April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

April 26, 2020

:27

Weird News: Extremely Overdue Library Book

Listen to hear about a long overdue library book finally returned many years later.

Vocabulary: due, manage, maximum

Read More

April 24, 2020

5:28

Debate: Is Public Safety More Important Than Civil Liberties?

A survey conducted by the University of Virginia School of Law early in the COVID-19 outbreak asked people about their willingness to give up civil liberties for public safety during a pandemic. Results indicated that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum favored restrictions on citizens’ freedom, including some unconstitutional ones, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Recently, however, some people have been arguing that they should be free to gather in public, for example, despite public health risks. Listen to hear more about the survey results and then debate: Is public safety more important than civil liberties?

Read More

April 23, 2020

5:49

Poetic Surprises

In celebration of National Poetry Month, NPR invites poets to reflect upon selected poems submitted by listeners. In this story, award-winning poet and teacher Nikky Finney discusses poems that surprise her and explains why she finds them beautiful, meaningful, and thought-provoking. Listen to hear how Finney began her poetry career and how she advises her students to engage in expressing themselves through poetry.

Read More

April 22, 2020

2:35

Student Volunteers Help Elderly Neighbors

An army of young volunteers is building bridges between generations while delivering food supplies. Invisible Hands is a network of college students and other young people bringing groceries to elderly New York City residents isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. The project has built deep bonds between people of different generations, even though they have not met. Listen to hear the organization’s founder describe the roots of the project and why a woman who received a delivery was crying with joy.

This audio story was recorded in early April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

April 21, 2020

3:45

The Pandemic's Impact on the Environment

As factories shut down and fewer people drive to work, the environment is getting cleaner. Carbon emissions have dropped worldwide and people around the globe are noticing clearer air and better views of mountains. Scientists point out that an even bigger drop is needed to head off the worst effects of climate change, requiring actions such as converting to wind and solar power. Listen to hear more about how the slowdown in human activity is affecting the environment and why scientists believe animal sightings have increased.

Read More

April 20, 2020

5:23

Democrats Consolidate on 2020 Nomination

Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States in the 2020 election. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the presidential primary race, but his candidacy has had a lasting impact on the Democratic party. Sanders has a loyal following of young people and progressives, whose support has helped push his ideas into the political mainstream. Listen to learn more about the rise and fall of Sanders’ presidential bid and how he plans to continue to influence the Democratic party.

Read More

April 19, 2020

:26

Weird News: Alligators Help with Social Distancing

Listen to hear how people in Florida are advised to keep a safe distance from each other during the pandemic.

Vocabulary: visualize, residents

Read More

April 17, 2020

4:53

Debate: Should the Spanish Language Be Gender Neutral?

Teens in Argentina are pushing to make Spanish gender-neutral. They say the rules of the language favor men over women and exclude nonbinary people. The Royal Spanish Academy argues that it is important to maintain the purity of a language that has been spoken for hundreds of years. Listen to hear more about the dispute over changing Spanish and then debate: Should the Spanish language be gender-neutral?

Read More

April 16, 2020

4:37

Booming Business at Toilet Paper Company

During the COVID-19 pandemic, toilet paper has been in high demand, and one Maine factory owner is working around the clock to supply it. He moved to Maine a year before the pandemic hit and invested his life savings in a toilet paper factory. Now, he and his son can barely fill all the orders they are receiving, and they hope that means the business will succeed. Listen to hear the owner’s son explain the lessons he has learned and why he finds his work rewarding.

Read More

April 15, 2020

4:29

Boosting People's Memory While They Sleep

An experiment to improve people’s memory while they sleep has shown promising results. Researchers asked participants to learn a new video game, then tested whether their memories improved after electrical signals were sent to their brains while they slept. Scientists say the technique could someday help people boost their ability to learn. Listen to hear a reporter describe the brain cap she wore for the study and learn about potential concerns raised by the research.

Read More

April 14, 2020

4:13

Sports During a National Crisis

Sporting events have soothed the nation during difficult times by distracting people from worries and giving them hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when big gatherings can spread disease, public sporting events contribute to the problem rather than offering a solution. Listen to hear an ESPN commentator describe how sports have helped Americans survive past crises, why this one is different, and how sports organizations have helped set the tone for responding to the current pandemic.

Read More

April 13, 2020

3:50

Face Masks Can Help Contain Virus Spread

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says all Americans should wear face masks in public to prevent spreading COVID-19. Before now, the CDC had recommended social distancing, or keeping six feet away from others, but that can be difficult in crowded spaces like grocery stores. The new recommendation reflects recent studies indicating that many people carry the virus without showing symptoms. Listen to learn which materials make effective masks and how wearing a mask in public sends an important message.

This audio story was recorded in early April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

Read More

April 12, 2020

:26

Weird News: Students Design Minecraft School

Listen to hear about how students recreated their school in the virtual building game Minecraft.

Vocabulary: scale model, congregate

Read More

April 10, 2020

4:43

Debate: Should Companies Offer Paid Sick Leave During the Pandemic?

Workers at big companies are demanding paid leave, among other protections, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. Amazon workers in New York, where some employees have COVID-19, want their warehouse to be deep cleaned while they continue to be paid. Instacart workers, contractors who do not receive benefits, are asking for paid leave if they get sick or are exposed to illness. Workers at both companies say these benefits are necessary and fair, given the risks they are facing, though the companies do not normally offer extended paid leave. Listen to learn more about the workers’ demands and then debate: Should companies offer paid leave during the pandemic?

Read More

April 9, 2020

2:08

Laptops for Remote Learning

With schools around the country closed due to COVID-19, teachers are using technology to help educate kids remotely. However, some students lack access to a computer, making online learning impossible. One school district in California is leveling the playing field by distributing laptops to children from low-income families. Listen to hear a principal describe the joy of seeing students in the computer line, and learn how a high school student has been spending her time at home.

Read More

April 8, 2020

3:27

Caring for Zoo Animals

What happens to the animals when no one visits the zoo? Though the coronavirus pandemic has shut down many public gathering places and cultural institutions, including zoos, the animals continue to need daily care and feeding. Places like The Cincinnati Zoo depend on a small group of dedicated workers to show up each day to care for their beloved animals. Listen to hear zoo workers describe some of their favorite animals and learn how one baby hippo became an internet star.

Read More