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Current Events

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March 30, 2018

3:02

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Debate: Are Toy Stores Necessary?

For the last few decades, the most prominent toy store in the United States was Toys R Us. Recently this toy store announced that it would lay off its remaining 33,000 employees, declare bankruptcy, and close its doors. People are reacting with nostalgia for these stores and discussing how shopping experiences have changed. Listen to the reactions of these people to the closing of Toys R Us stores and debate: Are toy stores necessary?

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March 29, 2018

1:48

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Passover and Kosher Grape Juice

During the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, observant Jews follow a set of kosher laws. Kosher food refers to the types of food and ways of preparing food that follow Biblical laws. Orthodox Jews follow these religious laws very closely and do not eat or drink what is not kosher. During Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened products and during the Passover Seder meals, and they drink the ‘fruit of the vine” or grape juice as an important part of the observance. There is currently some competition for Orthodox shoppers in the grape juice business. Listen to hear more about Passover and the market for grape juice.

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March 28, 2018

4:03

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World’s Best-Known Scientist, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.

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March 27, 2018

2:55

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U.S. Sanctions Russia

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 19 Russians over their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Many were also a part of the indictments issued as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian interference in the election. Also sanctioned was the Internet Research Agency, which created fake news and made up Twitter accounts to look like Americans to spread disinformation during the campaign. Listen to hear more about these sanctions and what they might lead to in the future.

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March 26, 2018

3:24

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Students Walk Out Over Guns

Across the country students walked out of their classrooms to protest the mass shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and called for stricter gun laws. The protest was 17 minutes long in honor of each person killed during the shooting. There was another protest on March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country called March for Our Lives, which aimed to end gun violence and mass shootings. Listen to hear from students at a high school in Philadelphia during the walk out, and more about these protests.

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March 23, 2018

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Debate: Should Teachers Carry Guns?

President Trump met with governors at the White House to discuss gun policy and school safety. He wants to see more teachers armed, making sure they are appropriately trained and have the right skills. Some people think that would be a good defense against school shooters, but many teachers do not want to carry a weapon in the classroom. Listen to hear more about guns in schools and what might be done to keep students safe and then debate: Should teachers carry guns?

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March 22, 2018

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Food Stamps or Food Boxes

The Trump administration has proposed changing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The plan would provide people with nonperishable foods that are chosen for them instead of fresh foods they choose themselves. Native Americans recognized this as the same type of food assistance they have historically received, with devastating impacts on their health. Listen to hear more about food assistance in the past and in the possible future.

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March 21, 2018

3:39

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Convenience Economy Clutters Up China

The demand for convenience is creating problems on sidewalks in China, especially in its largest cities. Shared bikes and food delivery on scooters are causing clutter and congestion on sidewalks. In Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, shared bikes are left on the sidewalk, piled on top of each other. Food delivery scooters have no dedicated lanes in the street, so they speed through pedestrians on the sidewalk trying to make deliveries on time. With such limited walking space left on the sidewalk, people sometimes walk in the road which is dangerous. Listen to hear more about the problems the convenience economy has created in China.

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March 20, 2018

6:54

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Poet Gwendolyn Brooks Inspired Young Poets

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry and writing was well known by many African-Americans who read a paper called the Chicago Defender. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, her writing became known by white people as well. She influenced and inspired other writers such as Toni Morrison, and funded programs and prizes to encourage people to write poetry. Listen to this story about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks.

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March 19, 2018

4:54

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North Korea and U.S. Agree to Historic Meeting

President Donald Trump has agreed to direct talks with Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea. Since Trump took office, the two leaders have called each other names and threatened each other’s countries. The United States has many nuclear weapons and North Korea has been developing missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and could reach the U.S. This potentially historic meeting could lead to negotiations about nuclear disarmament. According to past experience, however, North Korea will be a tough negotiator. Listen to hear more about the goals for this potential meeting.

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March 16, 2018

3:46

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Debate: Who Should Warn the Public of Nuclear War?

A false nuclear missile attack alert was recently sent to the phones of residents and visitors in Hawaii. It was sent by a state emergency management worker who believed the drill was a real attack. This has highlighted the disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks. Federal officials would like the warning to come from local authorities, but there is legislation introduced to make the public warnings the sole responsibility of the federal government. Listen to hear more about this issue and then debate: Who should warn the public of nuclear war?

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March 15, 2018

3:33

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March Madness Basketball Corruption

Money, secret deals, and big names in college basketball are involved in an ongoing federal investigation. Coaches, sneaker executives, and others are being investigated for bribery and fraud at the start of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, or March Madness. Ten men were arrested on a variety of charges including taking bribes and using money to place players in certain colleges. This illegal activity has been going on for decades and there are questions about whether these investigations will change the culture of men’s college basketball. Listen to learn more about these corruption charges.

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March 14, 2018

0:45

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Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! March 14 is celebrated in different ways in cities across the country. Pi, or 3.14, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits. It was named for the Greek letter Pi, which corresponds with the letter ‘P’ which stands for the perimeter of the circle. Pi is an irrational number whose decimals continue infinitely, but it is also a delicious dessert. Listen to hear more about celebrating Pi Day.

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March 13, 2018

4:37

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Learning about Mexican Culture through Tacos

One University professor is combining scholarship with an exploration of the Latino culture using the rich history of tacos. He uses food to connect his students to Mexican people and their narratives. Students travel to a taqueria to explore the food of Mexico, discussing history and culture to create understanding along with identifying misconceptions. Listen to hear this professor discuss questions of cultural appropriation and relationships to power as he teaches his students about Mexican culture using food.

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March 12, 2018

4:20

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Unprecedented Number of Women Running for Election

There are double the number of women running for Congress in 2018 than there were in 2016. At latest count, 430 women may run for the U.S. House of Representatives nationwide and about 50 for the Senate. This year is on track to break records, with a very large majority of these women running as Democrats. Along with running for office, women are organizing, volunteering, and being more vocal about what is important to them. Listen to hear more about this trend of more women entering politics.

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March 9, 2018

3:00

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Debate: Does Birth Order Matter?

Firstborn children often have an advantage over their younger siblings. They get more attention from their parents because they are alone for the first months or years of their lives. But are they more successful? A new research study finds that firstborn sons are more likely to become CEOs. The research on birth order is interesting since some things can influence a person’s behavior, but a person’s fate is not determined solely by birth order. Listen to hear more about what this research study found and then debate: Does birth order matter?

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March 8, 2018

7:20

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Nellie Bly and Her Journalism Career

Nellie Bly was a female reporter from Pittsburgh, PA in the late 1800s. Bly became famous for her daring reporting methods, such as pretending to be mentally ill in order to be committed to an insane asylum so she could write about the treatment of patients. Tired of writing “women’s stories” early in her career, Bly learned that she could get more attention and opportunities when she inserted herself into her stories. Listen to learn more about female pioneer Nellie Bly and her highly modern approach to journalism.

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March 7, 2018

5:07

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Smart Devices Are Listening

Voice-activated devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, always have their microphones on. They are passively listening until you say the “wake” word, but people are worried they are listening and recording every single thing that is said. The owners of the devices can go into the app to see a history of everything that is heard by the device. One concern is that this data could be used to look for evidence that could help to prosecute crimes, or be reviewed by the National Security Agency. Listen to this story to hear about the pros and cons of voice-activated devices and their impact on privacy.

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March 6, 2018

4:04

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Football Changes Kids' Brains

Research on former players of the National Football League shows that brain injury is linked to repeated blunt impact. But little is known about the connection between football, brain damage, and young players. A scientist in Texas studied football players between 8 and 18 year old and measured how their brains changed after one season. They used sensors in football helmets to tell how hard the players were getting hit. Listen to hear the results of this study and suggestions for preventing these injuries.

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March 5, 2018

3:21

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China Considering Lifting Term Limits for President

In China, the president serves two five-year terms, according to its constitution. The Communist Party has now proposed changing the constitution and eliminating the term limits for presidents. China’s current leader, Xi Jinping may not retire after the standard 10 years in power. He also holds two other positions which outrank the presidency. He is the head of China’s Communist Party and the military. Listen to this story about the changes in term limits and discuss what this might mean for China.

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March 2, 2018

4:18

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Debate: Should All Kids Get a Trophy?

Many kids receive a trophy, medal or ribbon for participating in sports, science fairs, or other competitions. Some think it’s sending a dangerous message to kids, telling them that they will be rewarded regardless of their effort or success. Some think the trophies are an important marker of participation and they mean something to kids. Listen to experts, as well as the reporter, as they describe their thoughts on giving trophies for participation, and then debate: Should all kids get a trophy?

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March 1, 2018

1:57

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The Black Panther Movie

The movie about the superhero Black Panther is a phenomenon. The stars of the movie are black actors and it takes place in a fictitious African country that was never colonized by Europeans. The Black Panther has characters who are rulers of kingdoms, inventors, creators of advanced technology, and fierce women warriors who protect the king. Crowdfunders across the U.S. are raising money to take entire groups of kids to see this movie. Listen to this story to hear the reaction of fifth grade students after they saw the Black Panther.

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February 28, 2018

2:52

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What Students Understand about Slavery

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds that most high school seniors don’t fully understand many facts about slavery. The study also finds that educators aren’t provided with good materials, training, or standards for teaching students about slavery in the U.S. It’s an uncomfortable subject and most curriculum guides teachers to highlight heroes, such as Harriet Tubman, before teaching about slavery. Listen to this story to hear about the problems and possible solutions to understanding the history and reality of slavery.

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February 27, 2018

3:56

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Student Activism Over Gun Violence

Students who witnessed the deadly school shooting in Florida are channeling their rage and grief into activism for gun reform. The classmates of the 17 people who were killed by a gunman in a Parkland, Florida high school are demanding state lawmakers ban assault rifles. There are protests and school walkouts planned across the country, in an effort to encourage lawmakers to rethink their positions on guns. Listen to one of the the high school students who survived the shooting as she talks about why she has become a gun control activist.

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February 26, 2018

4:19

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Russian Indictments Over Election Interference

A grand jury indicted 13 Russians for carrying out "information warfare" in an elaborate effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictments describe years of efforts in which hundreds of well-funded and sophisticated Russians accumulated social media followers, spread distrust, and divided Americans against each other. The indictment says Americans who worked with the groups didn’t know they were working with Russian operatives. Listen to hear more about what the indictments mean for these 13 Russians as well as for Americans.

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February 23, 2018

2:22

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Listening Olympics: QUIZ

THE LISTENING OLYMPICS IS NOW CLOSED. WE WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS SOON!


It’s time to go for the gold!

Click the assign quiz button in the top right corner to assign the Listening Olympics Quiz to your students!

The quiz will be open until Friday March 2nd. Remember, once students start the quiz they cannot pause it and can’t take it twice.

Good luck!

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February 23, 2018

4:11

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Debate: Should We Clone Monkeys?

The first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was a sheep named Dolly in 1997. The Dolly clone proved that cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from. Since then, scientists have been trying to use the same technique to clone other animals. Dogs, pigs and other animals have been successfully cloned, but the first primate clones were recently born in China. Since monkeys are people’s closest relatives, this may allow scientists to study human diseases and develop cures. Listen to hear about the benefits and concerns of cloning primates and then debate: Should we clone monkeys?

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February 22, 2018

3:41

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Recycling Poop In Space to Eat

Traveling in space for months at a time may be possible soon. Packing all of the food and water needed would take a lot of space and fuel. American crews on the International Space Station already recycle their own sweat and urine, and now scientists are finding ways to recycle other waste products including feces. Bacteria helps to break down human waste and at the end of the process make it into food that can supplement an astronaut’s diet. Listen to hear more about the next steps in making recycling poop in space a reality.

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February 20, 2018

4:57

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Struck by Lightning and Reconnecting

Some events can deeply connect two people. In this story a 12 year old girl’s life was saved, and it took over 50 years for her to find the one who saved her. In 1967 two girls were at a camp and one was struck by lightning and fell unconscious. The boom of lightning made the other girls run from the cabin but when one girl realized she wasn’t with them, she went back to get her. That action saved her life. Listen as these two women reconnect for the first time since that event to say thank you and tell their stories.

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February 19, 2018

3:52

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Teenage Olympic Speed Skater

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 speed skating 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.

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February 16, 2018

3:46

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Debate: Are Deliveries by Robots a Good Idea?

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?

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February 15, 2018

2:20

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Blessing of Pets in Spain

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.

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February 14, 2018

3:42

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90 Miles an Hour on Ice

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.

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February 13, 2018

4:11

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A Tiger’s Roar Tells Us A Lot

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.

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February 12, 2018

4:24

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Teen Screen Addiction

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.

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February 12, 2018

2:22

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Listening Olympics: Opening Ceremony

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!

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February 9, 2018

4:33

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Debate: Should Women Be Allowed to be Religious Leaders in any Faith?

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?

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February 8, 2018

3:35

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North Korean Figure Skaters

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.

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February 7, 2018

6:21

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Melting Permafrost Exposes Carbon

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.

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February 6, 2018

4:11

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What You Need to Know about Bitcoin

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.

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