TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
New current events added daily. Get Our Weekly Roundup.
February 5, 2014
One of the first instances of a plague was found during the Roman Empire. The plague, which occurred during the 6th century, spread through Europe, Africa, and Asia. Today, an ancient burial site may hold DNA evidence of why and how it occurred. Listen to this story to learn the difference between ancient and modern bacteria.
February 4, 2014
The 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing suspect could face the federal death penalty. Some victims of the bombings actively argue for capital punishment. The majority of residents in Massachusetts, where the bombing happened, do not support the penalty and it is not legal for state crimes. Listen to this story to learn what the bomber's fate might be. And then listen to this story about how a federal death penalty law trumps a state law that prevents it.
February 3, 2014
Many Chinese citizens did not light fireworks this year to ring in the year of the horse because many parts of China already have toxic air pollution levels. Lighting fireworks during the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, is traditionally done to bring good luck. Listen to this story to learn why the Chinese are especially worried about air pollution.
January 31, 2014
A third of the country's produce is grown in California, but more than half of the state is under severe drought conditions. The financial loss is huge since land cannot be planted and produce is not grown and sold. Listen to this story to learn who else a drought affects.
January 31, 2014
Farms aren't the only things suffering in a severe drought - ski resorts are also hurting. With little to no snow fall, ski resorts delay openings to unprecedented dates. Listen to this story to learn more about how communities are living with this reality.
January 30, 2014
This year's Super Bowl will be held at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium—but many mistakenly believe it will be held in New York. This could have tremendous economic impact on New Jersey since business will flow to Manhattan rather than stay in New Jersey. Listen to this story to hear what the mayor of the host city has to say.
January 29, 2014
President Obama laid out a sweeping agenda in his State of the Union address. He called for a "year of action" on many important government changes. He told Congress he wants to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment, fix immigration laws and ensure equal pay for women. Listen to this story for a short wrap-up of the one hour speech and then discuss with your class.
January 28, 2014
Brittle bones disease is a congenital disease that makes a person's bones extremely fragile and twisted. Currently, there is no cure — but engineering students at Rice University came together to build a robotic arm for one brittle bones patient. Listen to this story to learn how it changed the teen's life.
January 26, 2014
Gentrification holds a negative connotation for many people, who believe it pushes the less fortunate out of their homes to benefit the more affluent. However, recent studies have shown that gentrification may actually benefit lower income families. Listen to learn more about the history of gentrification and its possible benefits for low income families.
January 24, 2014
There are 48 Mexican nationals on death row in the United States. The third Mexican national was executed this week in Texas, despite push back from Secretary of State John Kerry and the Mexican government. Listen to this story to learn why this precedent could be risky for US citizens living abroad.
January 23, 2014
Since the Syrian Civil War began, more than 2 million people have fled the country. Half of the Syrian refugees are children. A majority of Syrians have crossed borders into neighboring countries in the Middle East. Listen to this story to hear about a seventeen-year old Syrian refugee in Lebanon that must now support his family.
January 22, 2014
Nearly six decades after schools were ordered to desegregate, students at a Little Rock High School still believe today there is work to be done to feel fully integrated. Listen to this story to learn how Arkansas high school students feel about race at their school.
January 21, 2014
Kate Byroade knew her family once owned slaves. She feels uncomfortable acknowledging that her ancestors dominated other people, but she knows that the story is important. As Kate has learned more about her family’s past, it has become increasingly personal for her and hard to reconcile. For instance, she felt troubled when she learned that an ancestor once owned an 8-year-old child. Listen to this story to hear more about how Kate thinks about her family’s slave-owning past.
January 20, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. had many ties to Boston in the 1960's. He donated his personal papers to his alma mater, Boston University. Listen to this story and hear how many people in Boston remember the young King.
January 20, 2014
The movie '12 Years a Slave' has inspired some people to uncover connections between their own families and slavery. A San Francisco man talks about how he felt when he discovered his ancestors had been slaves in North Carolina. He studied old documents and record books that revealed both struggle and resilience in his family’s past. These stories feel deeply personal to him, and they’ve affected him in powerful ways. Listen to learn more about what this man and others have learned about their ancestors.
January 17, 2014
Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” became a sensation in the African-American community and an anthem of the 1960's civil rights movement. Listen to this story to learn why “A Change is Gonna Come” was written and the impact it had on the Civil Rights movement.
January 16, 2014
This month, 50 years after a war on poverty was declared by President Lyndon Johnson, politicians are still fighting over how to help alleviate poverty. This week the two major political parties in the U.S. agreed they need to do more to help the poor, but differ on how. Republicans call to repeal state aid and Democrats claim that those safety nets saved the economy.
January 15, 2014
The remains of hunter-gatherers were found in a cave dating back 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. These people did not grow food, but rather, foraged for it. What interests scientists is that the hunter-gatherers were found with cavities, despite the “paleo diet.” Listen to this story to learn the culprit of cavities.
January 13, 2014
50 years ago President Lyndon Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” The President and Congress created Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and other programs for low-income Americans. But did we win the war on poverty? Listen to this story and then explore the question with your class.
January 10, 2014
Food shouldn’t be used as a form of punishment, but some prisons do it. In some prisons, “the loaf” is a bland form of food, given to disruptive inmates. Is this ethical? Listen to this story and discuss the merits of this form of discipline.
January 9, 2014
There will be 30 million dead Christmas trees lining curbsides in the weeks after the holidays. However, they don’t just go to waste – many groups are finding environmental uses for former trees. Listen to this story to learn about the creative ways former Christmas trees impact the Earth.
January 8, 2014
More than 41 states have laws against texting and driving, but thousands of people are still using their cell phones while they drive. So does imposing a texting ban while driving actually decrease auto accidents? The data says no, listen to this story to learn why not.
January 7, 2014
A Polar Vortex will descend on the majority of the United States within the next two days. Temperatures will be unseasonably low with wind chills of below zero. Listen to this story to learn more about the science and rarity of these kinds of vortexes.
January 6, 2014
Animal manure creates the necessary nutrients, phosphorous and nitrogen, to help plants grow. However, water sources surrounding animal farms are also heavily polluted, mainly due to phosphorous in the water beds. Listen to learn about the economics and environmental impact of animal farming.
January 3, 2014
There are over 7 billion people on Earth today, double the population 45 years ago. A famous bet was made between an economist and biologist to determine if a world at risk of overpopulation will adapt and survive. Listen to this story with students to learn the results.
January 2, 2014
The federal government provides discount flood insurance. But after paying out many insurance claims in flood prone areas, the program is deeply in debt. So in 2012 Congress raised the flood insurance rates. But there was such an uproar that now Congress wants to roll back the increase. Listen to this story about the complex obligations behind flood insurance.
December 20, 2013
In "The Great Gatsby" F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the life of the rich and glamorous during the Roaring Twenties. But what happened to the author when the carefree splendor of the 1920s ended and the nation was plunged into the Great Depression? The 1930s were not kind to Fitzgerald or his wife Zelda. The Fitzgeralds moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where the author continued to look for inspiration in the hopes of making a comeback. Listen to learn more about the fate of this glamorous couple of the Jazz Age after the stock market crash.
December 10, 2013
The California Gold Rush of 1849 inspired thousands of prospective gold miners to move to California in search of wealth. The Gold Rush peaked in 1852, but people still find gold in California rivers. When the U.S. economy was in a recession in 2007 and 2008, gold prices started to rise and a new generation of gold prospectors headed to California. Listen to hear from these modern day prospectors and learn what drives them in their search for treasure!
December 9, 2013
Author Jack London lived a life of adventure and travel. From a childhood of poverty in San Francisco to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, London took his experiences and transformed them into compelling fiction. 'The Call of the Wild' and 'White Fang' made London the most popular American author of his generation. Literary critics now recognize the talent behind his clearly written adventure tales. Listen to learn more about the extraordinary life of this adventurous, hard working man.
December 9, 2013
FDR proclaimed that December 7, 1941 will go down in infamy. On that day, 2,000 U.S sailors at Pearl Harbor died from a surprise Japanese attack which started America's involvement in WWII. This veteran witnessed both the beginning and the end of the war.
December 8, 2013
In 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn' author Mark Twain wrote about his childhood along the Mississippi River, but he did so as an adult living in Upstate New York. From his vagabond youth to forming a family and beginning to write novels, learn more about Mark Twain’s life and about how and where he wrote his greatest novels.
December 8, 2013
Outlaw Jesse James and his gang have become synonymous with the Wild West and horseback outlaws of the era, but the story behind his actions is far more complex. James and other members of the James-Younger Gang were Confederate guerrillas, known as Bushwhackers, before and during the Civil War. At the end of the war ex-Confederates were on the losing side and suffered the consequences. Disenfranchised and numb to violence after what they had witnessed during the war, they sought justice and revenge from the winners of the war. Listen to learn more about the life and exploits of these well-known outlaws.
December 7, 2013
The works of American author Mark Twain are widely studied, but the man behind this famous pen name is less understood. Samuel Clemens was born in a small Missouri town and through challenges, travels and adventures he became and created Mark Twain. This self-educated “border ruffian” became a successful and famous “Connecticut Yankee” by combining his life experiences, sense of humor and renowned writing talents. Listen to learn how the life of Samuel Clemens created the Mark Twain we know and love.
December 7, 2013
In 1960, American author John Steinbeck took a 10,000 mile road trip around the United States with his poodle, Charley. They rode in his pickup truck, which he converted to a camper and named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse. This counterclockwise trip from New York to Maine, to the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, the Deep South and back to New York inspired Steinbeck’s novel “Travels with Charley” and allowed Steinbeck to see his country and answer the question “What are Americans like today?” A modern day journalist retraced Steinbeck’s journey, using the novel, Steinbeck’s letters and some old-fashioned detective work.
December 6, 2013
The British legend of King Arthur dates back to the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The details of his life story are populated by folklore and medieval fiction and have been expanded by authors throughout the centuries. The tale of the sword and the stone has resonated through the ages. A young King Arthur learns from sorcerer Merlin with no knowledge of his noble blood. This concept of childhood and the unexpected hero has transcended time and resonates in tales of unlikely heroism today. Listen as modern author Lev Grossman discusses his favorite version of this tale 'The Once And Future King.'
December 6, 2013
The former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. Mandela was the founding president of the democratic nation. Listen to this story to learn about Mandela's life and legacy.
December 5, 2013
Phillis Wheatley lived an extraordinary life. Born in West Africa and sold into slavery in Boston, Massachusetts, Wheatley became the first published African-American woman and poet. In addition to being a poet, Wheatley exchanged letters with religious leaders and philanthropists. Some of her letters have survived, including one in which she reflects on the American Revolution. Listen to learn about this valuable letter, which was auctioned off in 2005.
December 4, 2013
Slavery is a horror of history. The capture and transportation of human beings from Africa to North America through the Middle Passage is an experience that is hard to imagine. First-person slave narratives were the first honest account of the experience and were used by the abolitionist movements in Britain and the United States to show the reality of slavery. Listen to learn more about the first-person account of freed slave Olaudah Equiano, shared in his autobiography in 1789.
December 2, 2013
American poet Emily Dickinson was known as an eccentric recluse throughout her life. Dickinson maintained friendships through letter writing. She wrote poetry privately. Her unusual poetry style wasn’t truly discovered until after her death in 1886 when her sister Lavinia found nearly 1,800 of her sister’s poems. Though Lavinia had promised to destroy her sister’s papers, she instead had the poems published, which led to Emily’s fame as a great American poet. Listen to learn how her poetry continues to be an inspiration today.
December 1, 2013
William Faulkner was a private man and a proud Southerner. He is considered by many to be a literary genius. Faulkner wrote frankly about the South, where he lived his entire life. His work brought him acclaim including a Nobel Prize and two Pulitzer Prizes. From 'The Sound and the Fury' to 'As I Lay Dying,' Faulkner took the reader into the mind of his characters by presenting distinct points of view and a stream of consciousness writing style. Learn more about this great American author by exploring his antebellum home in Oxford Mississippi.