TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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October 22, 2018
Since the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February 2018, there has been significant national interest in the issue of gun violence in schools. The federal government surveyed all U.S. schools in order to find how exactly how many school shootings had occurred within a year. Investigative journalists followed up on the survey results, finding that the actual number of shootings was much lower than reported by the government. Listen to hear about the investigation and its implications.
October 19, 2018
Malaria is a devastating disease transmitted by mosquitoes, affecting millions each year. A team of scientists has been experimenting with genetic engineering that would cause the mosquito population carrying malaria to destroy itself. Listen to hear how the genetic engineering process works and how different groups are responding to the controversial experiment, and then debate: Should mosquitoes be genetically modified to self-destruct?
October 18, 2018
When plastic is thrown away, it crumbles into tiny pieces, known as microplastics. These small bits of plastic, less than 5 millimeters (or 0.2 inches) in size, are polluting rivers, lakes, oceans, and even soil. Scientists are studying how microplastics find their way into the ecosystem and what happens when they do. Listen to hear what research ecologists are doing to learn more about how microplastic waste may be affecting us and our world.
October 17, 2018
An earthquake and 18-foot tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28th, devastating the coastline. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes, and thousands more are dead or missing. Communication is difficult, and recovery efforts face significant challenges. Listen to hear a reporter in Palu, Indonesia describe the aftermath of the tsunami and its impact on people’s lives.
October 16, 2018
Originally organized by the Jefferson estate and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, an exhibit called “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello” has been expanded to include recently discovered items associated with Sally Hemings. Hemings was an enslaved woman owned by Thomas Jefferson and also the mother of several of his children. Listen to hear one of their descendants, who now works at Monticello, reflect on the complexity of American history as represented in the exhibit.
October 15, 2018
In a recent Senate vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired. The confirmation proceedings were very contentious, and the Senate vote was among the closest in history. After hearings about accusations of assault, reactions to Kavanaugh’s nomination were full of emotion and partisanship. Listen to hear about this historic vote.
October 12, 2018
Top executives from Facebook and Twitter recently met with Congressional committees about their roles in stopping interference in American elections by international powers such as Russia and Iran. Signs indicate that such interference remains a significant problem heading into the upcoming elections, and major social networks report that they are making efforts to address the issue. Listen to learn about what the networks are doing and debate: Should Facebook and Twitter be required to protect us?
October 11, 2018
Researchers are studying barn owls to better understand how they are able to focus so intensely, with the goal of shedding light on why some humans struggle with focused attention. Specifically, they are studying how the owl brain ignores all the information that distracts from what is most important to the owl’s survival. Listen to learn how and why research on owl brains might be able to help people with attention issues.
October 10, 2018
In some instances, voting laws cause confusion about who is eligible to vote. For example, laws about whether citizens with a felony record can vote vary from state to state. In addition, efforts to keep voting registration records accurate have sometimes mistakenly removed eligible voters from the list. Listen to learn how various legal barriers influence voting and hear about the experiences of some of the people who have encountered these obstacles.
October 9, 2018
The process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen has been lengthening for years, but the backlog in citizenship applications has increased significantly during the Trump administration, which is concerning to immigrant advocates. People applying for citizenship must fill out a written application, take a citizenship test, and be interviewed, and each of those steps takes longer now. Listen to hear about recent changes in the citizenship application process and timeline and how they are viewed by various participants in the process.
October 5, 2018
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says there is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids, and they are trying to address it. To do this, they are cracking down on those who make and sell e-cigarettes. Listen to hear what the FDA is doing and how different groups feel about it, and then debate: Should e-cigarettes be banned?
October 4, 2018
Additional hearings were added to the Senate confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to address allegations made by a woman who testified that he assaulted her when they were in high school in 1982. A current high school senior wrote and published an opinion piece describing her experience of the hearings. Listen to hear an interview with the student author about her reflections on the testimony and its implications.
October 3, 2018
There is so much flooding in Bangladesh that many students cannot travel safely to school. In order to ensure that students in isolated villages have access to education, a nonprofit organization has created floating schools that pick students up at their homes and hold class right on the boat. Listen to learn about how and why these special schools are helping students in Bangladesh.
October 2, 2018
A teen theater company has developed a play about gun violence, and they have designed a set that also functions as a public art installation. The room-sized exhibit includes thousands of shoes representing people affected by gun violence this year, with a shoe added for each new victim through the run of the show. Listen to learn about what inspired the design of this play and art exhibit.
October 1, 2018
It has been a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. While some progress has been made, there is still a huge amount of damage that has not been repaired, even a year after the hurricane. Listen to hear reflections from a Puerto Rican Senator about the government’s response to last year’s major hurricane and related implications for the upcoming hurricane season.
September 28, 2018
Three New England Patriots football players recently moderated a community forum where they asked candidates for district attorney how they would address inequality in the criminal justice system. The forum was part of a national series organized by the Players Coalition, a group that negotiated a $90 million campaign for social justice and racial equality with the NFL. The football players explained that, as citizens, they want to make a positive impact on their communities that is more powerful than protests on the playing field. Listen to hear more about what these football players are doing to tackle injustice and then debate: Should Professional Athletes Get Involved in Politics?
September 27, 2018
Some tiny, microscopic bacteria hunt and attack other bacteria, including those that make people sick. Scientists are now researching possible uses of these predatory bacteria in treating infections. They are also interested in whether these germ-eating germs might be useful in the event of germ warfare. Listen to hear how this exciting research could impact people’s lives.
September 26, 2018
A fire recently destroyed Brazil’s National Museum and millions of artifacts within it representing thousands of years of history. An anthropologist and ethnology professor who studies the history of Brazil’s indigenous cultures lost much of his life’s work in the fire. Listen to hear his reflections on the fire and what the loss of hundreds of historic objects and documents means to him, his country, and the world.
September 25, 2018
Interest in the upcoming midterm elections is higher than it has been in a long time, yet many Americans who are eligible to vote do not do so. More people tend to vote when there is a presidential race on the ballot. However, elections between those races (called midterms), which include important Congressional races, also have a significant impact on the lives of Americans. Listen to hear why some Americans who are able to vote have chosen not to cast a ballot and what that may mean for the election outcomes.
September 24, 2018
It has been a major challenge for many people in the Carolinas to get their basic needs met in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which hit land Friday, September 14th. In addition to power shortages caused by the storm, the flooding and destruction have made it difficult for many people to find food, gasoline, and safe places to stay. Listen to hear about how Hurricane Florence has affected people’s everyday lives.
September 21, 2018
There have been several recent high profile cases of employees secretly recording conversations with colleagues at work and then sharing those recordings. This practice is controversial. Some say that it is the only way that they will be believed when reporting that a colleague has behaved inappropriately. Others say that it interferes with trust and damages workplace culture. Listen to hear arguments on both sides and debate: Should secret recordings be allowed at work?
September 20, 2018
Monarch butterflies are in danger. In addition to their beauty, monarchs contribute to the ecosystem by pollinating wildflowers and by providing food for birds, small mammals, and insects. However, their life cycle depends on the milkweed plant, and its availability is shrinking. Listen to hear what conservation ecologists recommend as a solution to this environmental problem that many people can help to put into action.
September 19, 2018
Nike has launched a new sportswear advertising campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, known for protesting racial injustice on the football field by kneeling during the national anthem. Reactions to both Kaepernick’s protests and Nike’s new “Just Do It” ad campaign have been mixed. Listen to hear about Nike’s controversial choice of spokesman, as well as reactions from both supporters and opponents of that choice.
September 18, 2018
A 26-year old black man was shot and killed in his own Dallas apartment by a white off-duty police officer who told investigators that she mistakenly entered his apartment, thinking it was her own. The officer was arrested for manslaughter and released on bond. Listen to hear reflections on this tragedy from the victim’s mother and others affected by his death.
September 17, 2018
Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced many questions during his Senate confirmation hearings. He testified for days, answering questions from Senators about presidential power, abortion laws, and a variety of other issues. The hearings are intended to help the Senate and the public learn more about the president’s nominee for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, whose decisions will impact generations. Listen to hear about some of the major issues raised during these important hearings.
September 14, 2018
The design of schools and classroom spaces can have a big impact on students’ learning experiences. This story follows an architecture critic’s tour of a 90-year-old New York City school building and her commentary on the history of school design. Listen to learn about the relationship between classroom design and educational goals, and then debate whether schools should be redesigned for today’s students and teachers.
September 13, 2018
Places without any human-made sound are rapidly disappearing. The “One Square Inch of Silence” project aims to preserve one such place in the Hoh River Valley, located in Washington’s Olympic National Park. Listen to a sound specialist guide a trek into the rainforest to experience natural silence.
September 12, 2018
Shooting the cover of the September issue of Vogue magazine is often considered the grand prize of fashion photography. Twenty-three-year-old Tyler Mitchell is the first African American photographer, and one of the youngest ever, to win that prize. Listen to this interview with Mitchell, who discusses what led to this important moment in his career, how he feels about it, and his thoughts about being the first black photographer to receive this honor.
September 11, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled their home country of Myanmar since attacks by soldiers on their ethnic group. Now in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, their lives remain dangerous. Building shelters on the sandy land where the camps are located has proven problematic. Listen to hear about life in these camps and the ongoing challenges facing Rohingya refugees.
September 10, 2018
In an unprecedented move, the president has taken away the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and suggested that he may do the same with other former intelligence officials who have been publicly critical of him. The clearance gave Brennan the right to access classified information after leaving his job so he could be an advisor to new administrations. Listen to hear about this significant event and why it matters.
September 7, 2018
The future of the nuclear power industry is an issue that generates controversy. Some argue that nuclear energy is an important resource in addressing problems associated with climate change. Others are concerned that the safety of nuclear power plants still presents a serious risk. Listen to experts discussing developments in nuclear engineering and debate whether nuclear power plants should be recognized as a source of clean energy.
September 6, 2018
Michael Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including tax evasion and campaign finance violations. In addition to owing about $1.4 million in unpaid income taxes, Cohen, who has described himself as Trump’s “fixer,” admitted to a role in paying two women to stay silent about their relationships with Trump, with the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Listen to hear more about Cohen’s admission of financial crimes and their implications for the president.
September 5, 2018
Republican Senator John McCain died at 81 of brain cancer on August 25th, 2018. In addition to representing Arizona for six terms in the U.S. Senate, his legacy includes serving in the U.S. Navy as a pilot during the Vietnam War, where his plane was shot down and he was captured and held as a POW or prisoner of war for five and a half years. Listen to hear how that experience influenced his views and his career.
September 4, 2018
People who are missing an arm may use a high-tech artificial limb to help them with everyday activities such as eating or writing. These prosthetic limbs are very expensive, however, which means that it does not always make sense to use them for activities such as biking or playing baseball. To address this issue, a medical center is 3D printing custom prostheses that are much less expensive. Listen to hear how 3D printing is helping people, especially kids, fully participate in sports and other daily activities.
August 31, 2018
A group of students recently sued the state of Michigan for failing to teach them to read in their public schools. The students argue that literacy is a constitutional right. A federal judge dismissed their case because literacy is not explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution. However, the case is being appealed, making the argument that students should have equal opportunities to learn, no matter which school they attend. Listen to an interview with one of the lawyers working on this case, and then debate whether students have a legal right to learn how to read.
August 30, 2018
President Trump has recently established new trade policies, causing conflict with some of America’s most important global trade partners, such as Canada, Mexico, and China. As children go back to school, one reporter wanted to find out how these changing trade relationships could affect the costs of common school supplies. Listen to learn how global trade wars influence the price of colored pencils, erasers, and backpacks.
August 29, 2018
President Trump recently called the news media “the enemy of the American people.” Now, one news publication has started a movement to respond to this claim. Over 300 news publications have decided to support the effort and run editorials about the importance of a free press. Listen to learn more about one journalist’s project to defend the free press.
August 28, 2018
Although it seems to be everywhere, sand is actually running out. This might not seem like a problem, but you probably don’t realize how important sand really is. We use it to make concrete, silicone, and even artificial islands. Unfortunately, environmental factors are making it harder and harder to get, like many other natural resources today. Listen to learn the untold story of sand.
August 27, 2018
The Trump administration recently established a policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S. border, detaining parents and children in different places, even if they are legally seeking asylum. Although this rule has been reversed, some Americans want to help reunite the families that were separated while the policy was in effect. People who are passionate about this issue have raised more money than anticipated to help these families. Listen to find out how a simple act can snowball into a larger effort.
August 24, 2018
A city in California is experimenting with a new program in which it will give certain poor citizens $500 a month. Unlike other types of assistance, this money won’t come with any requirements or conditions. It’s what’s called a “guaranteed basic income,” a system other countries like Finland and Kenya have tried. Listen to hear the city’s mayor describe his vision for the program.