TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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May 23, 2022
Recently a shooter opened fire at a market in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people. The alleged shooter is an 18-year-old white man. A document likely written by the man and posted online before the attack expressed a belief in the replacement conspiracy theory, which is based on fear that minorities and immigrants are “replacing” white people in America. The man's extreme racist views were strongly influenced by online websites. Listen to learn about the role of technology in the deadly attack and why some people want social media sites held accountable.
May 22, 2022
Listen to hear about the accomplishments of a cat and its owner, who both enjoy climbing.
Vocabulary: feline, scaling, duo, task
May 20, 2022
Wimbledon, a prestigious tennis tournament, has barred Russian and Belarusian players from competing in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Some argue that keeping players from repressive countries out of competition is unfair. These athletes often disagree with their country’s policies and, they argue, should not be held responsible for the actions of its leaders. Others say that allowing athletes from countries with repressive regimes to compete in elite competitions confers status and legitimacy on the home country, and appears to validate its bad acts. Listen to former tennis champion Martina Navritalova share her thoughts on the Wimbledon decision and then debate: Should athletes be banned to punish their countries?
May 19, 2022
A Texas teacher who has made rap songs about math concepts has had great success helping students learn. Many of his students are economically disadvantaged and struggle outside of school, and he believes his music is familiar and inviting. Listen to hear some of the teacher’s songs, and learn how he is helping other teachers and having a lasting impact on his students.
May 18, 2022
Around the world, conservationists work hard to protect endangered species from extinction. Their efforts are paying off in California, where an adorable rodent, the kangaroo rat, has moved off the endangered species list. The small, hopping critter plays an important role in the region’s ecosystem, but human encroachment into its habitat has threatened its survival. Listen to learn how the dwindling kangaroo rat population is being restored.
May 17, 2022
Researchers are trying to make electric vehicles (EVs) even more environmentally friendly. They have discovered a way to recycle EV batteries that conserves the raw materials in them. Listen to hear about the recycling process researchers from Finland have developed and learn more about electric vehicles.
May 16, 2022
The American Southwest is experiencing the driest period in over a thousand years. The drought, affecting Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and other states, has continued for 22 years, and scientists who specialize in megadroughts, or dry periods lasting several decades or more, say it shows no signs of ending. Water levels in rivers, aquifers, and reservoirs have dropped as people continue to use water that is not being replenished fast enough. Listen to learn what a new study says must be done to preserve precious supplies of water.
May 15, 2022
Listen to hear about a very young college graduate and his plans for the future.
Vocabulary: degree, prodigy, immortality
May 13, 2022
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is buying Twitter, and he has pledged to make some changes. Musk says he will loosen the rules restricting free speech on the social media platform. Supporters of his plan argue that the First Amendment protects all types of speech, even when it’s hateful. They believe that unrestricted free speech is key to a healthy democracy. Opponents say that unfettered free speech on social media contributes to misinformation, allows dangerous bullying, and promotes deeper divisions among Americans. Listen to learn more about Musk’s future plans and then debate: Should social media platforms restrict free speech?
May 12, 2022
The author of a book about Generation Z – people born in 1997 or later – believes that members of Gen Z have faced more challenges in their young lives than any generation since World War II. In this interview, he describes the defining events of Gen Z’s time and explores how those events impacted the generation’s outlook and attitude. Listen to learn how the author researched his book, and hear members of Gen Z discuss their experiences and perspectives.
May 11, 2022
The asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago caused most of the world’s living things, including dinosaurs, to go extinct. Not every species died out, however, and scientists are trying to figure out why certain animals survived while others perished. Researchers looking at the fossil record are starting to uncover clues. Listen to learn what happened on Earth when the massive asteroid hit and which clues are helping researchers solve the scientific mystery.
May 10, 2022
Scientists are working on ways to fuel airplanes using clean energy. There are drawbacks to using batteries, like the ones that power electric cars, in planes, so scientists are experimenting with other sources of clean energy. Listen to learn about efforts to fly planes powered by solar, electric, and hydrogen energy.
May 9, 2022
The war in Ukraine is threatening to cause a crisis in global hunger. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest producers of grain, which it exports to Africa, the Middle East, and other places around the world. The war in Ukraine has hampered the country’s ability to grow and harvest this important product, putting millions of people at risk. Listen to hear how Russia’s attack on Ukraine has disrupted food supply chains and caused widespread problems of hunger and displacement.
May 8, 2022
Listen to hear what happened when a man attempted to travel by hamster wheel.
Vocabulary: authorities, vessel, crucial, gear, ashore
May 6, 2022
A rising number of young people are opting to attend trade schools over college. College graduates are likely to earn higher salaries, on average, than those who do not graduate from college, and to have jobs with benefits and security. For many, a college education provides a broad base of knowledge that is useful over a lifetime. Demand for workers in construction, car mechanics, and other trades, is rising, however, and people with these skills may earn as much or more than college graduates. For those who like active, hands-on work, trade school may offer a more appealing path. Listen to learn about the boom in skilled trade programs and then debate: Is college for everyone?
May 5, 2022
The Ukrainian springtime tradition of decorating eggs with intricate designs, called pysanky, has additional significance this year because of the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City is curating an installation of pysanky, and people from all over the world have sent their colorfully decorated eggs to the institute as a symbol of hope against the Russian invasion. Listen to learn more about the ancient art of pysanky and find out where the eggs on display will go when the war is over.
May 4, 2022
Many people have fond childhood memories from childhood of playful, silly pillow fights. However, the first-ever pillow fight championship, held recently in Miami, proves that pillow fighting can be serious business. Listen to hear how two brothers came up with the idea of professional pillow fighting, and learn why it can be a physically challenging combat sport.
May 3, 2022
The Australian government has listed koalas as an endangered species across most of Australia’s east coast. Koalas, tree-dwelling marsupials that are often mistaken for cute bears, have lost a lot of their habitat in recent years. Listen to learn more about koalas and find out how their inclusion on the endangered species list might help them begin to thrive.
May 2, 2022
Recently a judge in Florida ruled that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the national public health agency of the U.S. government, does not have the authority to force Americans to wear masks on public transportation. Some riders of planes, trains, and buses are rejoicing, while others, especially those with certain health conditions, fear the decision could put them at risk. The ruling threatens the power of the U.S. government to make public health decisions for Americans in the future. Listen to a former CDC director discuss the implications of the decision and offer tips on how to stay safe while traveling.
May 1, 2022
Listen to hear how a rancher in Australia used his sheep to honor a family member.
Vocabulary: released, captured, footage, tribute
April 29, 2022
As powerful countries continue to launch satellites into space, a new frontier has opened. Some say it is like the Wild West – unregulated and potentially dangerous. Countries including China, Russia, and the U.S. compete for supremacy, sometimes targeting each other’s satellites. Space junk – thousands of pieces of orbital debris hurtling through space at high speed – can also damage these satellites, which are used for scientific research, telecommunications, and military operations. Some suggest that creating international laws governing space would bring order to a lawless frontier. Others argue that space is beyond the realm of earthly politics and favor an approach of every nation or company for itself. Listen to learn about the military uses of satellites and then debate: Should international law reach into space?
April 28, 2022
The inspiration for poetry may come from unexpected places. In this interview, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who also hosts a poetry podcast, discusses where people might look to find inspiration for their writing. She also recites and analyzes some of the poems listeners shared during NPR’s Poetry Month campaign. Listen to hear some memorable short poems from NPR listeners and how an experienced poet responds to them.
April 27, 2022
Researchers studying Australian magpies noticed some surprising behavior among their subjects. After fitting the birds with harnesses, the scientists watched as groups of magpies pecked the harnesses off their friends, making it impossible for the research to continue. The event touched off a scientific debate about what motivated this magpie rebellion. Listen to learn more about the ill-fated study and the questions it raised about the intelligence of magpies.
April 26, 2022
Students in Barcelona, Spain, are able to safely drive themselves to school as a part of the bici-bus. The bici-bus is a group of kids and adults who ride to and from school on bikes. Listen to hear more about this fun and environmentally-friendly way to travel.
April 25, 2022
The words used by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in public statements and speeches are reminders of a dark period in Russia’s past. For many, the dismissive way Putin speaks of his enemies, his insistence on complete loyalty, and his iron-fisted control of facts and information all bring Joseph Stalin to mind. Stalin inflicted a reign of terror on Russia during the 1930s and 40s, ordering the arrest, exile, or killing of huge numbers of his own citizens. Listen to a journalist explain the parallels between Putin and Stalin and what they might mean for the future of Ukraine.
April 24, 2022
Listen to hear what happened when a python was found in an Australian grocery store.
Vocabulary: serpent, serendipity, alerted
April 22, 2022
As travel by train, plane, and ship has become more accessible, people are visiting all parts of the world, bringing many advantages. Tourists can learn about environments and cultures different from their own. Scientists can conduct studies that lead to better understanding and protection of the planet. Increased traffic to certain parts of the world, though, is causing harm. Listen to learn about the impact tourism and research are having on Antarctica and then debate: Should tourism to threatened places be restricted?
April 21, 2022
NPR asks listeners to share their original tweet-length poems during poetry month. In this interview, a poet and professor at James Madison University recites and analyzes some of her favorite poems shared during NPR’s poetry month campaign. Listen to hear the poems, her views on poetic form, and the advice she offers those who may be shy about putting their thoughts on paper.
April 20, 2022
Ever since an IBM computer defeated a world-class chess champion, people have been fascinated by competitions pitting humans against computers. A recent example involves a popular racing game called Gran Turismo Sport. In this video game, cars driven by artificial intelligence (AI) demonstrate a remarkable ability to learn quickly enough to beat some of the world’s most experienced human gamers. Listen to hear how AI drivers beat their human counterparts and what might be learned from the outcome.
April 19, 2022
Mending, or repairing, torn and stained clothing can be good for the environment. The practice of visible mending, which emphasizes rather than hides the repair, adds creativity to the clothing’s sustainability. The visible mending trend has its history in the ancient Japanese tradition of sashiko, stitching geometric patterns into fabric in order to strengthen it. Listen to hear more about visible mending and the process of sashiko.
April 19, 2022
NASA has announced that the International Space Station (ISS) will end its orbit of Earth in 2031. The station will continue to be used by astronauts to live and do research until then, but a plan is in place for the station’s fall from space into the ocean. Listen to hear more about the ISS’s eventual splashdown and to learn how private companies may help create future space stations.
April 18, 2022
The most recent United Nations report on climate change highlights solutions to the crisis of the warming planet but says countries must act quickly. The report urges a fast shift to clean sources of energy and away from carbon-producing fossil fuels, and explains some of the tools available to accomplish that shift. Listen to hear a climate scientist respond to the report and explain why she believes it offers hope.
April 17, 2022
Listen to hear about a giant digital cat on display in Japan.
Vocabulary: massive, billboard, brighten, spirits
April 15, 2022
Twice a year, Americans adjust their clocks. Pushing the clocks an hour forward in the spring during daylight saving time means more light in the evening, and many Americans want to make that permanent. They say more light at night saves energy and encourages people to be active. Changing the clocks, they argue, increases fatigue and can cause accidents. Others argue that changing clocks twice a year keeps the light consistent with our natural rhythms. Those who favor holding onto standard time are concerned that dark mornings can be difficult for those going to school or work. Listen to learn about an earlier attempt to stop switching the clocks and then debate: Should daylight saving time be permanent?
April 14, 2022
Two friends who are poets wrote a book of poetry together to stay connected during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. They wrote together using renga, a Japanese form of syllabic poetry. The poets believe their writing process strengthened their friendship and helped them through challenging times. Listen to learn more about renga and to hear a poem from the book.
April 13, 2022
Wally the Walrus has been on quite a journey. Native to the Arctic, Wally has been spotted swimming very far from home, including in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of southwest England. No one is sure why Wally has ventured so far, but his behavior has started to disrupt the local boating industry. Listen to learn more about the journey of Wally the Walrus and how locals are responding to his presence.
April 12, 2022
Humans aren’t the only species that get hangry, which means getting angry when they are hungry. Scientists have found that fruit flies show behaviors that suggest they get hangry as well. Listen to hear about the experiments scientists have done on hangy fruit flies and find out what they discovered.
April 12, 2022
Most churches in the U.S. were segregated by race in the 1960s, a situation that prompted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to call 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings “the most segregated hour” in America. Even now, many church congregations lack racial diversity. However, a church in Quincy Orchard, Maryland, formed when three segregated churches merged in 1968, has a rich history of racial integration and is the subject of the documentary Finding Fellowship. Listen to hear a producer of the documentary discuss the church’s history, the Quincy Orchard community, and the film’s message.
April 11, 2022
The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as a United States Supreme Court Justice to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Judge Jackson will be the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court, the third Black person, and the sixth woman in the court’s history. Jackson’s qualifications include serving as a public defender and a judge, and her landmark confirmation is an inspiration to many. Listen to hear a law student reflect on Jackson’s experience and the significance of this historic event.
April 10, 2022
Listen to hear about a World War II veteran's 100th birthday celebration.
Vocabulary: parachuting, tandem, serenaded