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June 9, 2014

Panama canal expansion slowed by arguments over funding

Panama Canal Expansion Slowed by Arguments Over Funding

The Panama Canal was built 100 years ago as a shortcut for maritime trading. Today, construction is underway to widen the canal so larger ships can pass through. With the wide canal, Panama hopes to become the Hong Kong of Latin America, but construction is often halted due to arguments over funding.

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June 8, 2014


Much ado quarto.square

Adapting Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” has been adapted for the stage and screen across history and across the globe. The plot of the play, written in 1598 and 1599, resonates across time and with many audiences. The most recent film adaptation by Josh Whedon in 2013 delighted critics and viewers alike. Listen to hear from Whedon himself why he loved “Much Ado About Nothing” and the impact he thinks the play has had on modern storytelling.

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June 8, 2014


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The Bible in Public Schools

What role should religion have in public life and in government? These are the questions America’s founding fathers faced when drafting the constitution. And it’s a question that is still examined today. This First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion while preventing the establishment of religion. These competing ideas have created a constitutional conflict when individuals want to exercise their religion in places funded by the government, like public schools. Listen to learn how this line was tested when a 6-year-old student wanted his mother to read his favorite book, the Bible, to his class.

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June 6, 2014


Soldiers and villagers continue to celebrate d day 70 years later

Soldiers and Villagers Continue to Celebrate D-Day 70 Years Later

70 years after the Allies invaded Normandy to liberate France from Nazi control during WWII, many of the soldiers who stormed the beaches on D-Day are very old or no longer alive. But those who witnessed the invasion and the relatives of the soldiers continue to gather in the small village in France where it happened. Many soldiers stayed in contact with the same villagers they met during wartime. Listen to this audio story to learn about the commemoration.

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June 5, 2014


Congress upset with white house decision to do prisoner swap without consultation

Congress Upset with White House Decision to do Prisoner Swap Without Consultation

The White House recently swapped five Guantanamo prisoners for one U.S army sergeant who was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. However, Congress is upset because the President didn't consult with them before making the trade. Some legislators feel that this event was designed to further the Obama Administration's legacy. Listen to this radio story to learn why.

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June 4, 2014


Cap and trade carbon emissions policy aimed at using the free market

Cap-and-Trade Carbon Emissions Policy Aimed at Using the Free Market

Cap and Trade is the new carbon emissions policy aimed at regulating emissions from various factories based on a "token" system. When an entity runs out of tokens, they can turn to the free market to buy more. This story clearly explains what Cap and Trade is and why Republicans don't like it. Listen to this radio story to learn why.

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June 3, 2014


More moms share baby photos on social media  changing moms' identities

More Moms Share Baby Photos on Social Media, Changing Moms' Identities

New moms are using Facebook and other social media sites to share pictures of their newborns in such numbers that it is creating an all digital generation. Studies showed that moms' increased use of social media represents their struggle with a changing identity and relationship with motherhood.

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June 3, 2014



Bringing ‘Gone With The Wind’ to the Screen

The movie Gone With The Wind was released in 1939. This story of love and survival in the Civil War resonated with audiences and critics alike. It won 10 Academy Awards and when adjusted for inflation it remains the highest grossing movie ever. The story’s path from print to screen was not a quick or easy one. Listen to learn more about the film’s production and how a movie about the Civil War won the hearts and minds of people in 1939 and to this today.

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June 2, 2014


Looking back at beijing's tiananmen square protest  25 years later

Looking Back at Beijing's Tiananmen Square Protest, 25 Years Later

Twenty five years ago, a group of students in China dared to challenge the Communist government with protests in a major square in Beijing called Tiananmen Square. The protests were broken up by the military, who fired into the crowd. More than 300 people were estimated to have been killed. The government called the protests "counter-revolutionary." In the decades since the "Tiananmen Massacre," the government has worked to make the protest disappear from the minds of the Chinese people. Listen to this story and then discuss how history can be controlled.

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May 30, 2014


Few women in engineering

Few Women in Engineering Due to Gender Gap

Olin College in Massachusetts has one of the largest student populations of female engineers, which is rare because so few women go into the sciences. There is a documented gender and confidence gap for female engineers, but students think it can be closed by reaching girls at an earlier age. Listen to this radio story to find out how schools are fixing this problem.

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May 29, 2014


Maya angelou  poet  author  and civil rights activist  dies at 86

Maya Angelou, Poet, Author and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 86

Maya Angelou, celebrated poet, writer of I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Civil Rights Activist, passed away at the age of 86. She was a celebrity and an iconic figure in the African-American community. Listen to this radio story with your students to learn the extent of her impact.

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May 28, 2014


Childrens author

Children’s Author Gets Kids Excited about History by Making it Gross

A children’s book author decided the best way to get kids excited about is to tell stories through the lens of history’s grossest events. Mosquitos and bugs that carry illnesses such as yellow fever play a prominent role in her stories. Listen to this audio story and ask your students how they feel about “gross history.”

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May 27, 2014


To relieve

To Relieve Burdens of War, African Man Turns to Music Played on Glasses

A man has attracted a lot of YouTube attention by playing songs like “Happy” and the theme from “Game of Thrones” on half-filled wine glasses. This man is also from the Democratic Republic of Congo where he fled his country because of war to study in America. Listen to this radio story with your students to learn how music is helping him heal.

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May 26, 2014


%22honor flights%22 honor wwii veterans before time runs out

“Honor Flights” Celebrate WWII Veterans Before Time Runs Out

An “Honor Flight” is a trip that takes Veterans from all over the country to visit memorial sites set up to honor their service in WWII. Vets take this opportunity to share war stories. However, these “Flights” need to happen faster as time is not on the Veterans’ sides. Listen to this radio story with your students to discuss the impact of Veterans.

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May 23, 2014


School newspaper bans

School Newspaper Bans the Word “Redskins,” School Board to Vote

A school newspaper in Philadelphia is refusing to print the word “Redskin,” the name of their school mascot, in the newspaper because of its racist roots. Some parents and students feel that’s taking political correctness too far. They say it’s not the role of student journalists to alter the name of a team’s mascot. Now the school board will weigh in and decide whether or not to force the paper to print the name of the team’s mascot.

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May 22, 2014


Recycled toilet water is the solution for one drought stricken town

Recycled Toilet Water is the Solution for One Drought-Stricken Town

A Texas town has been living in severe drought conditions for three years and decided to recycle water from toilets, sinks, and other wash to meet their water needs. Water plant officials say that the water is completely clean of bacteria, but residents would rather drink bottled water. Listen to this public radio story and discuss with your students.

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May 21, 2014


Teenagers picking tobacco are at risk of nicotine poisoning

Teenagers Picking Tobacco Are At Risk of Nicotine Poisoning

Young workers who aren’t old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes are allowed to harvest tobacco in the United States. Human Rights Watch says while it’s legal to have kids as young as 12 pick tobacco, it’s not legal to put children’s health at risk of nicotine poisoning. Human Rights Watch is calling on the major tobacco companies to stop putting kids to work in tobacco fields. Listen to this public radio story with your students and discuss.

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May 20, 2014


Should we keep or kill the last vile of smallpox

Should We Keep or Kill the Last Vials of Smallpox?

The disease smallpox was successfully eliminated in 1977, but two research facilities still hold the last samples of the smallpox virus. The World Health Organization is going to vote soon on the future of the smallpox samples. Should we keep the virus to study it or completely destroy it because it could get into the wrong hands? Listen to this story and discuss.

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May 19, 2014


Polar ice melting is unstoppable  how should we prepare

Polar Ice Melting Is Unstoppable, How Should We Prepare?

Polar ice in Antarctica is melting and that creates rises in sea level that will greatly impact coastal cities like Boston. Scientists believe that it’s now time to think of solutions that address the unavoidable problems created by global climate change.

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May 16, 2014


Climate change makes food grow fewer nutrients

Climate Change Makes Food Grow Fewer Nutrients

Climate change will not only create extreme weather, but scientists have found that areas with more carbon dioxide grow less healthy crops. Although these crops are much larger in size, they lack nutrients such as zinc and iron. Listen to these findings on the long-term impact of CO2 on crops.

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May 15, 2014


Journalists increasingly using drones to get a sneak peak at a story

Journalists Increasingly Using Drones to Get a Sneak Peek at a Story

Drones are not just for military use anymore. They are being used by journalists to report stories. But this is raising some privacy concerns.

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May 14, 2014


Ukraine ed

The Government Cleans House in Post-Revolution Ukraine

Post-Revolution Ukraine is starting a “lustration,” or a process of cleaning house to separate from the old regime. Some believe that this is a type of witch hunt, but others think that the heavy hand is needed for Ukraine’s new, clean start.

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May 13, 2014


Remembering the alamo

Remembering the Alamo

Anglo Americans were once considered “illegal aliens” in Texas, then a Mexican state. This story is a modern day road trip to the Alamo that looks back to 1836 when American settlers fought with Mexico to eventually gain control of Mexico and the Southwestern territories. It explains how the dividing line between America and Mexico was drawn.

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May 12, 2014


Climate change to stay

Climate Change to Stay

A recent report by the U.S. government shows the most definitive evidence so far that climate change is happening and it’s being driven by people. Extreme weather and rising sea levels are just some of the consequences. Communities are trying to build preventative infrastructure, but it is costly.

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May 9, 2014


Affirmative action ban

Affirmative Action Ban

Affirmative action ensured that college applicants of color would have greater representation at universities. With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, states now have the choice to uphold or ignore affirmative action.

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May 8, 2014


Space thief

Space Thief

An American scientist was able to beat other countries to reach a comet first by “stealing” another scientist’s space craft. 31 years later, he’s on a mission to restore it to its original mission.

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May 7, 2014


Asian american health disparities

Asian American Health Disparities

In Asian American communities, there are many different geographical and cultural disparities that impact behaviors and therefore the risk of certain diseases like diabetes or cancer. To better treat these groups, doctors should be aware of what part of Asia patients are from.

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May 6, 2014


Botched oklahoma execution

Botched Oklahoma Execution

An Oklahoma execution went wrong when the prisoner was in apparent agony instead of a quick death through lethal injection. The governor is now calling for a review of execution procedures, which has ignited a death penalty debate.

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May 5, 2014


Racism in the nba

Racism in the NBA

Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, is now banned from the NBA and its games due to his discriminatory remarks that were caught on tape. He’s also being pressured to sell the Clippers. The public is also seeing this event as part of the civil rights movement. Listen to this story to learn why.

Note: Donald Sterling sold the Clippers four months after this story aired.

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May 3, 2014



‘Star Wars’ Movies and Beyond

George Lucas’s Star Wars films are an empire unto themselves. With two movie trilogies and another on the way, the films are prolific, as are the universe they build. This is matched and raised by hundreds of Star Wars books that mirror and expand the narrative of the movies. Some hardcore fans even prefer the books, which cover 25,000 years and include 17,000 characters. Listen to learn more about the unprecedented success of this movie based book franchise.

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May 2, 2014



Inspiration and Legacy of ‘Gone With The Wind’

Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With The Wind was an instant success when it was published in 1936. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a national bestseller. Mitchell was inspired by her family’s history as Southern planters and their stories of the past. The novel’s themes of love and survival resonated with some, but her portrayal of slavery and the Civil War, through the eyes of a slaveholding woman, remains controversial. Listen to learn how the Georgia county that served as inspiration for the book is dealing with this legacy today.

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May 2, 2014


Choosing vaccinations

Choosing Vaccinations

A rising number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to a variety of reasons. Doctors are alarmed at this rise of unvaccinated children, which may be connected to a series of measles cases.

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May 1, 2014



The Power and Morality of ‘The Godfather’

The 1972 film The Godfather introduced the world to the Italian Mafia. This story of family, honor and betrayal was based on a best-selling novel by the same name. The movie, which won three Oscars and had two sequels, has withstood the test of time and ranks as one of the greatest American films ever made. Listen to hear why the movie resonates with the viewer well beyond the first time watching it.

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May 1, 2014


Cellphone searches

Cellphone Searches

Does law enforcement have the right to search cellphones? The Supreme Court is hearing a case about whether it is lawful to search a person’s cell phone log during arrest. The case goes to the heart of the fourth amendment. Listen to learn more about cellphone searches.

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April 30, 2014


Earth like planets

Earth-Like Planets

Is there a possibility for humans to live on another Earth-like planet? Scientists claim that there are potential candidates out there, and for the first time can estimate how many. Listen to this story to learn more about other planets that could sustain life.

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April 29, 2014


Atomic clock precision

Atomic Clock Precision

A few seconds lost over millions of years seem irrelevant, but atomic clock scientists say that better clock precision will help us study and feel the heartbeat of the universe.

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April 28, 2014


College debt

College Debt

The level of college debt has risen in the last 20 years, where students now have to choose between overwhelming student loans or community colleges. Reform can start by fixing the financial aid system.

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April 27, 2014


Shakespeare engraving.square

Who’s the Real Shakespeare?

Plays and poetry written by William Shakespeare are studied in schools around the world. The British playwright is acknowledged as one of the great literary minds of all time - but not everyone believes that the works attributed to Shakespeare were actually written by him. No existing documents link the William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon to the famous plays. In addition, Shakespeare’s lack of education makes many question how he knew so much about language and the worlds of the rich that he writes about. Listen to learn more about these doubts over Shakespearean authorship and make up your own mind!

And check out this additional PBS resource on the authorship debate “Much Ado About Something”

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April 24, 2014


Starfish sickness

Starfish Sickness

Starfish are mysteriously becoming infected by a deadly disease that causes their arms to fall off and makes regeneration impossible. Scientists are urgently trying to figure out how their sickness is affecting the rest of the marine environment.

Find any sick starfish? Be sure to use #sickstarfish to help scientists!

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April 23, 2014


Cilantro distaste

Cilantro Distaste

The reason why some people dislike cilantro may not be due to taste, but to smell. This cilantro experiment indicates that certain people are genetically-inclined to “hate” cilantro.

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