TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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February 15, 2019
A recent viral video of an encounter at the Lincoln Memorial featured students wearing hats bearing the political slogan “Make America Great Again” (often abbreviated MAGA), prompting a lot of discussion about what the hats signified about those wearing them. Views differ about what the MAGA hat represents and whether it has become a racist symbol. Listen to this interview with a fashion and culture critic who recently wrote about what she thinks the MAGA hat symbolizes and then debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?
February 14, 2019
Some people who are deaf use assistive technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. Others feel that using assistive technology impacts a deaf person’s identity. One teenager who was born deaf has had cochlear implants since she was a year old, enabling her to hear and speak. As a result, she has felt excluded by members of both the hearing and the Deaf communities. Listen to her reflections on her experience navigating both worlds as someone who is “hearing but deaf.”
February 13, 2019
An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.
February 12, 2019
Love is a universal human emotion that brings us joy, focuses our priorities, and helps us face the challenges in our lives. The experience of love has inspired many poets to write about what drives it and how it affects us. Poet Kwame Alexander reflects on his love for his children and invites students to write about what love means to them. Listen to this interview with Alexander, who reads poetry about love and discusses why this powerful feeling keeps people connected, engaged, and motivated.
February 11, 2019
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed an important treaty agreeing to a nuclear weapons ban that represented a major milestone in ending the Cold War between the two superpowers. More than thirty years later, that treaty may be falling apart. The U.S. government says that Russia is not in compliance with the treaty and is threatening to withdraw if that does not change. Listen to this interview with a national security expert who explains what this means for national security and the potential threat of a renewed nuclear arms race.
February 8, 2019
A video of a recent incident in Washington, DC went viral, causing a flurry of reactions that played out in the media. The brief video showed an encounter between a Native American elder, who was part of an “Indigenous People’s March” on the mall, and a group of students from a Catholic high school who were in town for a “March for Life.” Media coverage initially generated strong reactions. When additional longer videos surfaced, the media’s response changed, and lots of public dialogue about the incident ensued via social media. Listen to this story about what happened and then debate: Does media coverage sway our views?
February 7, 2019
A polar vortex caused temperatures in parts of the country to fall to historically low levels. In Chicago, temperatures dropped to 21 degrees below zero. A real estate investor in Chicago realized that the cold temperatures would be dangerous to those who sleep outside and decided to help homeless people by renting some hotel rooms for them. After her social media post about the act of kindness went viral, others decided that they wanted to help as well. Listen to hear how this good Samaritan made a positive impact on her local community.
February 6, 2019
A recent study concluded that “a parachute is no more effective than an empty backpack.” While this might sound ridiculous, the researchers who designed the study did so to make a point about the importance of being critical consumers of research who do not accept findings without considering the research design. Listen to this story to hear more about why the study was done and discover the secret behind the surprising finding.
February 5, 2019
Some students at Texas Woman’s University have won a NASA-sponsored design competition aimed at solving problems related to space travel. The students tackled a problem that astronauts have a lot–lower back pain. They created a shirt to prevent and treat this common health issue through a design that simulates gravity. Like many other inventions for astronauts, the space shirt may also have other uses on earth. Listen to hear about how these students worked together on their design and what is next for their winning space shirt.
February 4, 2019
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has ended, but the resolution is only temporary. The government has reopened, furloughed workers have gone back to work, and Congress has promised to pay government workers their lost wages, while contractors may never recover their lost pay. The future is still uncertain, however, as Congress and the president are still negotiating over the budgetary issues that initially led to the shutdown – namely funding for a wall on the U.S. Mexico border. Listen to this story to hear about what might happen next as negotiations over border security in the budget continue.
February 1, 2019
A recent viral video showed a young child asking for help solving a math problem from Alexa, an automated virtual assistant that searches the internet. Some worry that with such ready access to technology, kids will miss out on important learning gained through independent problem solving. Others feel that kids should be able to get assistance from technology in the same ways adults do. Listen to multiple perspectives on the issue represented in this story and then debate: Should students ask Alexa for homework help?
January 31, 2019
It has been six years since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Parents of some of the children killed that day have dedicated themselves to preventing such tragedies from happening again. The “See Something, Say Something” program, which is free to schools, trains students to anonymously report concerns about threatening behavior through a mobile app. Listen to this story to learn more about the program and how it may be impacting school safety.
January 30, 2019
A Memphis photographer famous for capturing iconic moments of the civil rights movement was recently revealed to be an FBI informant who secretly reported information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists to the government. As a recent book recounts, Ernest Withers, whose photography earned him an international reputation, was involved in civil rights activities in ways that even his family was not aware. Listen to this interview with the author of the book about Withers to learn more about his complicated story.
January 29, 2019
Scientists from the Desert Research Institute in California are recruiting some very young researchers to help them better understand snow storms. The researchers have opened up data collection to citizen scientists, as they will need many snowflake pictures to answer their questions. The 4th and 5th grade students participating in the “Stories in the Snow” project are learning how to take very detailed pictures of snowflakes. Listen to this story to hear more about what the scientists hope to learn from their snow research, what students are learning from participating, and who will benefit.
January 28, 2019
For the third year in a row, a Women’s March was recently held on the mall in Washington, DC and in other cities around the world. The first Women’s March was organized in response to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This year, there was discord preceding the event, with some of the march’s leaders being accused of anti-Semitism. Many people, however, joined the marches in solidarity again, focusing on issues of equity and justice affecting women. Listen to this story to learn more about the event and the issues surrounding it.
January 27, 2019
A new group of Florida voters can now participate in the election process. Former felons in Florida were not allowed to vote for many years, but a recent amendment passed by a majority of Florida voters has reinstated this important right of citizenship. Listen to this story to hear more about what this change means for new voters and for the state of Florida.
January 25, 2019
Many people believe that there is a connection between playing violent video games and acting violently. Research indicates that aggression and violence are complicated and not caused by a single factor. Listen to this interview with a psychology professor and researcher who has studied the impact of media violence on development and then debate: Do violent video games encourage violence?
January 24, 2019
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has been going on for several weeks. While the president and Congress argue about funding for a wall on the southern border, 25% of the government has been closed. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid, though many of them are still required to work. As a result, many working families are struggling to pay their bills and making difficult sacrifices during the shutdown. Listen to this interview with one federal worker and mother whose family has been feeling the impact of the shutdown and hear about what the experience has been like for her.
January 23, 2019
Photosynthesis is the process that is foundationational for all life, in which plants use sunlight to change water and carbon dioxide into food and oxygen. Scientists have now genetically modified plants to perform that process more efficiently, thereby increasing agricultural productivity. Listen to this story to learn how researchers “hacked photosynthesis” and why it matters.
January 22, 2019
Since 1994, Americans have observed a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr on the third Monday in January. Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service. One group of volunteers in Dallas, Texas spent the holiday working in a school garden. The garden is part of a school program that involves students’ families in cooking lessons, volunteering, and sharing in the harvest. Listen to this story to learn about how the program serves the community and hear reflections from volunteers about their experience serving on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
January 18, 2019
Three women in their 40s recently entered a famous Hindu temple in India that for centuries has not allowed females between 10 and 50 years old because they are of childbearing age. The temple was targeted by Indian feminists, who have been protesting gender discrimination, and there has been a political backlash among Hindu nationalists. Listen to learn more about how this incident raises issues of both gender equity and religious freedom, and then debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?
January 17, 2019
A newly elected New Hampshire state legislator is only 19 years old. Cassandra Levesque entered politics at age 15 through her efforts to change child marriage laws in her state, which allowed 13-year-olds to marry. Working closely on the issue with a state representative led to deciding to run for office herself. Listen to this interview with Levesque to hear about her path to elected office and what she hopes to do now that she has become a state lawmaker.
January 16, 2019
On New Year’s Day, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) spacecraft made history by encountering the most distant object ever visited, over 4 billion miles away. The piano-sized spacecraft has already transmitted images of an icy rock known as Ultima Thule, which scientists believe to be a pristine vestige of the early days of our solar system. Listen to this interview with a planetary scientist to learn why this event is so exciting and how the mission may further our understanding of our solar system’s origins.
January 15, 2019
The Costs of War project at Brown University releases an annual report on the financial cost of the ongoing U.S. war on terror globally. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. has been involved in operations related to terrorism all over the world. According to the Costs of War report, these operations, both military and civilian, cost trillions of dollars. This includes both the immediate costs of waging war and also related indirect costs, such as those associated with supporting returning veterans and pursuing secretive counterterrorism efforts. Listen to hear more about how researchers calculate the financial costs of the war on terror and what they hope to achieve by reporting them.
January 14, 2019
The current partial government shutdown is affecting many employees and contractors who are not being paid while the president and Congress are arguing about whether the federal budget should include funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. One important area where the shutdown may pose a safety risk is air traffic control. Uncertainty about the future is influencing the day-to-day work of these federal employees as well as the experiences of the flying public. Listen to this story to hear about the various ways that the shutdown is impacting airport travel.
January 11, 2019
The Farm Bill recently passed by the U.S. Congress includes a provision outlawing rooster fighting throughout the nation and its territories. This provision of the law is having a big impact on the island of Puerto Rico, where the rooster fighting industry is important to the economy. Supporters of the law say that rooster fighting is cruel and should have been made illegal years ago. Some Puerto Ricans view the ban on the centuries old tradition as an attack on their culture. Listen to the story to hear both sides of the issue, and then debate: Should rooster fighting be legal in Puerto Rico?
January 10, 2019
The U.S. winners of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship are an increasingly diverse group. In addition to large proportions of women and first generation Americans or immigrants, this year’s Rhodes Scholars include the first recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Listen to this interview with Jin Park, who emigrated to the U.S. with his Korean parents at age 7, to hear what the scholarship award means to him and what he plans to do with the opportunity at to study at Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.
January 9, 2019
How do you remember a phone number? At a recent neuroscience conference, brain scientists found themselves debating this surprisingly difficult question. Storing a phone number turns out to be a complex working memory task with broader implications for how the brain works. Listen to this story to hear two different theories about how working memory operates and why understanding this basic function matters.
January 8, 2019
Artist Georgia O’Keeffe is famous for her paintings of flowers and southwestern desert landscapes. Few know, however, that her sister Ida O’Keeffe was also an artist. Ida’s work is being exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art. Listen to this interview with a museum curator to hear Ida O’Keeffe’s story and learn why her name is virtually unknown, while her sister Georgia is one of America’s most recognized 20th century painters.
January 7, 2019
The government has been partially shut down since before the new year, leaving more than 800,000 federal employees without a paycheck. The government is partially closed because Congress has not passed a bill to fully fund its operations, having reached an impasse over funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result, roughly a quarter of the government is closed, including all functions that are considered “non-essential.” Listen to this story to learn about the political standoff that is behind the shutdown and prospects for ending it.
January 4, 2019
Technology giant Google is facing pushback from its employees who are accusing the company of collaborating with the Chinese government to develop a search engine that would violate users’ privacy and allow government censorship. Experts say that Chinese residents would be unable to search for information using keywords related to human rights. The search engine would also provide the Chinese government access to the search history of users. Listen to learn more about this issue and debate: Should Google agree to let China censor online searches?
January 3, 2019
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued new instructions for how to treat children and teens with concussions. Until recently, the doctor-recommended treatment was complete isolation for at least a week. The rationale was that anything that required physical or mental effort could be dangerous for the child’s recovery, but doctors have found that the isolation could be more harmful. Now doctors believe that children should return to their activities after a few days of rest if the child feels ready. Listen to this story to hear about this new development in the treatment protocol for concussions.
January 2, 2019
The popular video game Fortnite has millions of players, and while the game is free, Fortnite coaches are getting paid up to $25 an hour. Some of these coaches are hired by parents who want to help their children get better at the popular shooter game. Some experts believe that Fortnite is becoming something of a social proving ground for children with a lot of pressure to win. Listen to hear more about the how and why of Fortnite coaching.
December 31, 2018
Jimmy Carter, a soft-spoken peanut farmer from Georgia was the 39th President of the United States and served only one term. His accomplishments included brokering important peace agreements between Middle Eastern adversaries and nuclear superpowers. But Carter, a Democrat, lost reelection in 1980 following a bad economy and a hostage crisis in Iran. Carter has been very influential in his long post-presidential life primarily through the Carter Center, which works in conflict zones, monitoring elections and eradicating disease. Listen to this story to learn about Carter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work with the Carter Center.
December 28, 2018
Ronald Reagan was an actor, governor of California, and the 40th President of the United States. He served two terms and died in 2004 of Alzheimer's disease, ten years after leaving office. He was a Republican known for his conservative stance on reducing taxes, who instituted supply-side economic policies known as “Reaganomics,” which many credit with helping the economy prosper. Reagan helped to facilitate the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. However, his administration was tied up in the Iran-Contra affair, in which senior officials secretly broke an arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran. As a former actor, Reagan brought glamor to the presidency, and he is ranked as one of the more popular presidents. Listen to this conversation with an historian about how Reagan’s time in office is remembered, including some myths about his presidency.
December 27, 2018
After serving many years as governor of Arkansas, Democrat Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1992. He is remembered for signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passing welfare reform, and balancing the budget, among other achievements. As he ended his second term, he noted the fast economic growth, low rates of unemployment and poverty, and other indicators of economic prosperity during his presidency. Democrats and Republicans disagree, however, about what led to the economic boom during his presidency. Listen to hear competing theories about causes of economic growth in the Clinton years.
December 26, 2018
President George W. Bush was the governor of Texas before he became the 43rd President of the United States. Bush, who is the son of President George H.W. Bush, was elected in 2000 in a close, controversial race involving a recount in Florida and was reelected in 2004. His presidency was defined by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, eight months into his presidency. Listen to learn how this event shaped Bush’s legacy.
December 24, 2018
President Barack Obama served as an Illinois Senator before he was elected President of the United States in 2008 and again in 2012. Born in Hawaii, he worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law professor before entering politics. Obama, a Democrat, was the first African American elected president, entering office at the beginning of a global financial crisis. He is widely credited with saving the U.S. economy from the brink of recession, and his other accomplishments include passing a major health care bill known as the Affordable Care Act. Listen to hear an economist discuss his thoughts on Obama’s legacy.
December 21, 2018
For a long time, the handwritten signature was a distinctive mark of individuals. It used to be that credit card transactions, contracts, and other important documents required a handwritten signature to be considered valid. These days, however, electronic signatures are often replacing handwritten ones, but some worry that they are not a secure enough form of identification. Listen to hear an expert discuss the past, present, and future of handwriting and then debate: Are electronic signatures risky?
December 20, 2018
While some migrant children travel to the United States with their families, others arrive on their own to be reunified with family members they have not seen in a long time. Such family reunifications may bring happiness, but they can present challenges as well. Listen to learn about the experience of two girls from El Salvador who came to live with their mother in Virginia after not seeing her for ten years.