TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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February 14, 2021
Listen to hear about a very old shipwreck found on the coast of Italy.
Vocabulary: merchant, archaeologist
February 12, 2021
After the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, many people are calling for national unity, but opinions differ as to how it can be achieved. Some say unity will only come through a process of reconciliation, or examining past wrongs and holding those who are guilty accountable. They argue that seeking justice allows a country to move beyond its painful past. Others say focusing on the past diverts energy from the task of looking ahead, keeps anger and divisions alive, and slows the healing process. Listen to learn parallels between post-Civil War America and today and then debate: Are unity and accountability mutually exclusive?
February 11, 2021
Before the pandemic, a snowstorm often meant a day off from school because it made transportation difficult. Now, with many students learning from home, snow days are often unnecessary. After a recent storm, one school superintendent in West Virginia decided to declare one anyway, although they were remote, to give kids and their families the chance to experience the many joys a snow day brings. Listen to a school leader explain why she called off school and how people responded.
February 10, 2021
A lot of new baby elephants have recently been born in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. Elephants need just the right environmental conditions to have babies, and the mothers spend years nursing and rearing their young. The unusual baby boom means that elephants are thriving in one part of Kenya, but their rising population could also mean trouble for their future survival. Listen to hear a journalist and his guide search for baby elephants in a safari truck, and learn how long the babies stay with their moms.
February 9, 2021
Mardi Gras is a festive occasion celebrated in New Orleans each year with parades, music, art, and other cultural events. The annual parades have been canceled this year because of the pandemic, but organizers have invented a creative alternative. They founded Hire a Mardi Gras Artist, a program pairing talented artists with New Orleans residents interested in installing “house floats” at their homes. Money raised from the project supports the city’s “culture bearers” – artists, musicians, and performers who embody the special culture of New Orleans. Listen to learn how the project is inspiring the city during a challenging time.
February 8, 2021
President Biden has nominated New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland to head the U.S. Department of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland would become the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position in the government. The Interior Department oversees public land such as national parks. In the past, the U.S. government removed indigenous people from much of their land, and some say Haaland’s Native American background gives her a unique perspective on issues of land use and rights. Listen to hear more about Deb Haaland and reactions to her nomination, and learn what she hopes to accomplish as Interior secretary.
Update: Since this story aired, Deb Haaland has been confirmed by Congress as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
February 7, 2021
Listen to hear about a rare hybrid turtle competing in a sea turtle race. Track Maisy’s travels here.
Vocabulary: contender, migration, hybrid
February 5, 2021
Lawyers have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) saying its policies discriminate against Black athletes. The NCAA requires college sports teams to reach certain academic benchmarks and punishes teams that fall short. The program was designed to encourage student-athletes to focus on their studies and keep the demands of their sport in check. However, teams from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been disproportionately punished under NCAA rules, leading some to claim the program puts Black athletes at an unfair disadvantage. Listen to learn more about the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program (APP) and then debate: Are academic requirements for college athletes discriminatory?
February 4, 2021
President Biden is bringing pets back to the White House. After four years without animals, the White House has become home to Biden’s two German shepherds, Major and Champ. Biden adopted the dogs from a shelter, and they are helping to raise awareness of the joys of rescue animals and the benefits that shelters bring to the community. Listen to hear a past president howling with his hound and learn the story of Major’s journey to the Biden household.
February 3, 2021
The world's billion-and-a-half cows produce huge amounts of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Methane is made in cows’ guts as they digest their food. When they burp and fart, they spew the gas into the air. Now, scientists have found a simple, unexpected way to reduce methane production in cows. Listen to learn about a surprising solution to the problem of gassy cows and how it may help address climate change.
February 2, 2021
President Joe Biden has issued a detailed national plan for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The 200-page document outlines the federal government’s strategy for testing and vaccinating Americans, restoring U.S. leadership in the world, and more. This audio story features an infectious disease doctor discussing Biden’s plan, including his views on both its merits and its shortcomings. Listen to a medical expert explain how well the plan meets the challenges he has seen as a doctor, and why he calls the plan “very U.S.-centric.”
February 1, 2021
The U.S. Senate is preparing a second impeachment trial for Donald J. Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection. The Constitution says officials convicted by the Senate will be removed from office, but Trump already left when his term expired. Some members of Congress say impeaching an ex-president does not make sense and want the trial called off. Others believe Trump should be held accountable for his behavior in the final weeks of his presidency and prevented from holding future office. Listen to learn more about the penalties that Congress can place on impeached leaders and what to expect in Trump’s second impeachment trial.
January 31, 2021
Listen to hear about a dog who traveled a long way to lounge on a porch.
Vocabulary: resident, lounge
January 29, 2021
Fifty-five West Point cadets caught cheating on an exam have been placed in a rehabilitation program and allowed to remain on campus, sparking controversy. West Point is an elite military academy that prides itself on its high ethical standards. In the past, students who have violated the school’s honor code have been expelled. Some say the more lenient policy gives young cadets the opportunity to make amends for and learn from their actions, resulting in stronger leaders. Others argue that not taking cheating seriously enough could undermine the school’s core values of integrity and responsibility. Listen to a West Point professor discuss the scandal and then debate: Should West Point students be expelled for cheating?
January 28, 2021
Poet Amanda Gorman never expected to become a public speaker. Although she composed poetry from a young age, her speech impediment made it difficult for her to pronounce certain words. Recently, though, she stood at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and delivered an original poem at the inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden. At age 22, she is the youngest poet ever to receive that honor. Listen to Gorman describe why the event held special meaning for her, how she prepared for it, and why she sometimes revises her poems at the last minute.
January 27, 2021
Beavers love to build dams – even inside houses. That’s what an animal rehabilitation worker discovered when she agreed to raise an abandoned baby beaver in her home. “Beave” gathers shoes and other household objects for his dam and displays other typical baby beaver behaviors, like whining for his dinner. Millions of fans watch his antics on TikTok. Listen to hear more about a popular rescued beaver and learn why living with others, even humans, is important for his health.
January 26, 2021
A new strain of coronavirus is spreading in the U.S. New versions of the virus are constantly developing from mutations, or slight genetic changes that occur as the original virus copies itself inside the human body. The new variant, which originated in the U.K., is more contagious than the original, raising concerns that infections could increase quickly in the U.S. and other countries as well. Listen to learn how the new strain may be causing infections to spread more easily and what scientists say is the best way to stay safe.
January 25, 2021
Joseph Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th president on January 20, 2021. The inauguration ceremony took place at the U.S. Capitol, two weeks after violent extremists stormed the building in an effort to overturn the election. Vice-president Kamala Harris also took the oath of office, making history by becoming the first female vice-president and also the first Black and Asian American. Biden and Harris take office as the country faces extraordinary challenges, including a worldwide pandemic and a deeply divided nation. Listen to hear more about an historic event and how it differed from past inaugurations.
January 24, 2021
Listen to hear about a jeweler’s giant treasure hunt in Michigan.
Vocabulary: dramatically, participate
January 22, 2021
Following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, big tech companies have taken action. Facebook and Twitter shut down the social media accounts of thousands of people involved in the attack, including President Trump, who has been impeached for inciting insurrection. Some say big tech companies have grown too powerful, and should not be able to restrict speech or business transactions. Others point out that private companies have the right to make and enforce their own rules for participation on their sites. Listen to learn more about the power of online giants and then debate: Is big tech too big?
January 21, 2021
A teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created an app to help himself and others manage the disease. Thirteen-year-old Drew Mendelow felt overwhelmed by all the data he had to keep track of as a diabetes patient, like food intake and blood sugar levels. He designed an app to help him, and he’s sharing it with as many other patients as he can. Listen to hear how a teen entrepreneur took action to manage his illness and help others, and learn why one medical professional thinks his efforts will make a positive difference.
January 20, 2021
As a successful college soccer player, Sarah Fuller knows how to kick. So when her university’s football team needed a kicker for an upcoming game, she stepped in, making history as the first female athlete to play in a Big Five NCAA football game. Before that, Fuller had spent years struggling to overcome injuries. Listen to hear a groundbreaking athlete explain how it felt to join the football team, why she was emotional on game day, and who most inspires her.
January 19, 2021
A week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection, which is a violent uprising against the government. He is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, indicating more bipartisanship than his last impeachment garnered. The process now moves to the Senate for a trial, although that will not occur until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Listen to hear the voices of lawmakers arguing for and against impeachment and reporters considering what might happen next.
January 17, 2021
Listen to hear about a coffee shop barista who was generously rewarded for his efforts.
Vocabulary: shame, haul
January 15, 2021
Breakdancing is the latest sport to be added to the Olympic games. Breaking is an athletic dance style incorporating acrobatics, dance moves, and freestyle footwork. It was first performed on New York City streets in the 1970s, typically to hip hop music. Some say becoming an Olympic sport could cause breaking to lose its character as it moves farther away from its urban roots. But it might also inspire a new generation of young breakers. Listen to hear a veteran breakdancer’s response and then debate: Should breakdancing become an Olympic sport?
January 14, 2021
Rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol could be charged with sedition, or an attempt to “overthrow, put down, or destroy the government by force.” The mob attacked legislators as they were carrying out a fundamental duty of American democracy: certifying the electoral votes confirming the country’s next president. Although sedition is hard to prove in court, some say that holding violent extremists responsible for their actions will help prevent future attacks. Listen to learn more about the meaning of sedition and how it has been used in the past to prosecute terrorism.
January 13, 2021
Dogs and humans have long had a special relationship. Part of the reason they get along so well is that dogs can understand human language, at least some of it. But why can’t they learn more? To find out, researchers played words for dogs and observed how their brains responded. Listen to learn what scientists discovered about how dogs learn words and why it’s unlikely they will ever be able to understand Shakespeare.
January 12, 2021
Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced nonviolent protest and advocated for racial harmony. The racism and violence he experienced throughout his life, however, sometimes filled him with rage. King believed anger could be a useful, positive force if it was channeled productively. Listen to hear more about MLK, Jr.’s views on the strong emotion of anger and how he used it to help him accomplish his goals.
January 11, 2021
Pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building while Congress was meeting inside to officially count the electoral college votes establishing Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. They broke windows and looted offices, forcing lawmakers to flee to secure locations. Trump has falsely claimed that the election was stolen, and some say his words and actions incited the violence. Lawmakers met later in the day, after the building had been cleared, to finish their work. The insurrection, or act of rebellion against the government, has prompted a shift in support for the president in his final days in office. Listen to hear about a major attack on American democracy and the questions it raises.
January 10, 2021
Listen to hear about how bees help students at a school in Slovenia reduce stress.
Vocabulary: routine,restless, relax
January 8, 2021
A deepfake is a piece of audio or video that has been manipulated to represent something that never actually happened. Created using advanced technology, deepfakes often look and sound so real that it is easy to be fooled by them. Many people worry that deepfakes will cause damage by spreading false information so widely that the truth will be lost. Some are concerned that deepfakes will erode people’s trust in the media, causing them to dismiss truth as fiction. Listen to learn more about media manipulation and then debate: Will deepfakes change how people view media?
January 7, 2021
Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe is considered one of the world’s top athletes. Among her many accomplishments, she helped bring the U.S. women’s national soccer team to victory in several Women’s World Cup tournaments. Rapinoe is also an activist who champions causes she cares about, including gay rights, equal pay for female athletes, and racial equity. She speaks openly about her personal struggles, and many view her as a role model. Listen to hear Megan Rapinoe reflect on a range of topics, from the current state of youth soccer to how it felt to realize she was gay.
January 6, 2021
High school students in Atlanta have organized an effort to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers throughout the country. It started in their home state of Georgia, where the group began delivering donations of masks and gloves to local hospitals when the pandemic hit. Their efforts went national when they realized that 3D printers could quickly produce large numbers of plastic face shields, a critical piece of protective gear. Listen to an interview with the teen entrepreneur who started the project, and learn how his volunteer work has impacted his life at school.
January 5, 2021
The human microbiome, a community of tiny organisms that live inside us, is important to our health in a variety of ways. Scientists have discovered that the microbes living inside bees also play an important role in their survival. Microbes give bees a particular body odor, a scent that can communicate to the hive if the bee is a friend or enemy. Listen to learn why bees invade the hives of other colonies and hear about the role that bees’ body odor plays in defending against such intruders.
January 4, 2021
A prestigious Rhodes Scholarship was recently awarded to the first Latino DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. The Rhodes Scholarship offers college graduates an opportunity to study at Oxford University in England. Rhodes Scholarships are among the most competitive and respected awards in the world. The winner, Santiago Potes, was brought to the U.S. from Colombia at age four by his parents, who entered the country illegally. Listen to learn about the influences in Santiago’s life that helped him succeed, and hear how he reacted when he got the good news.
January 3, 2021
Listen to hear about a wizard from New Zealand who is passing on his wand.
Vocabulary: successor, possess
December 23, 2020
An unusual baby possum was dropped off at an animal rehabilitation center in Texas. The tiny creature had no hair! Workers at the center started nursing the undernourished possum back to health, but the hairless critter had trouble keeping warm. When word of the animal’s plight got out, tiny sweaters and other clothing started pouring into the center. Listen to hear more about the stylish possum’s wardrobe and how she may one day help educate visitors about marsupials.
December 22, 2020
Mystery writer Agatha Christie has sold more books than any other novelist. Christie’s books have been entertaining readers for the past 100 years with exotic settings, suspenseful plots and strong characters, including detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Some of her titles have been made into classic movies and long-running plays. Listen to learn why Christie’s mysteries have achieved such success, and hear people who knew the author describe what she was like.
December 21, 2020
The first vaccines developed to protect people from COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA and shipped throughout the country, giving Americans hope that an end to the coronavirus pandemic is in sight. Most of the initial 2.9 million doses will be given to health care workers and people working and living in long-term care facilities. The vaccine must be kept frozen at very low temperatures, one of many factors that make nationwide distribution extremely complicated. Listen to hear more about the plan to distribute doses, what could go wrong, and how the government is preparing for possible mishaps.
December 20, 2020
Listen to hear about a sneaky fox with a soft spot for used shoes.
Vocabulary: resident, stash