TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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March 14, 2019
Michelle Obama, whose marriage to President Barack Obama brought her into the national spotlight, has written a memoir titled Becoming. In the book, she tells the story of her journey from childhood to the White House and beyond, sharing reflections on challenges she faced along the way and on how she has forged her identity over the course of her life. Listen to this story to hear some of Obama’s insights into her experience of becoming who she is today.
March 13, 2019
An astronomy writer has written a new book about “hazards to life in our universe,” in which he describes exploding stars, nuclear meltdowns, viral epidemics, natural disasters, and other phenomena with potentially cataclysmic impact on earth. Listen to this interview with the book’s author to hear what he learned from his research about past, present, and future threats to life on earth.
March 12, 2019
Freedmen’s communities were started by newly freed slaves following the Civil War. One such community was ‘Little Egypt’ in Dallas, Texas. The neighborhood got its name from a nearby church that is still open today, though in a different location. By the 1960s, many community residents had been bought out, and Little Egypt became part of Lake Highlands, a major suburb of Dallas. Listen to this story to hear what it was like to live in Little Egypt in years past and learn about how historians at Richland university uncovered the buried history of a southern freedmen’s community.
March 11, 2019
A deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, neo-Nazi demonstrations, and other recent events have brought national attention to the issue of anti-Semitism in contemporary America. Recent comments by a new member of Congress have generated debate about what constitutes anti-Semitism and spurred the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.” Listen to this interview with a Jewish scholar and author who reflects on anti-Semitism in America today.
March 8, 2019
The motto of the United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” represents an ideal as old as the nation. A recent study investigated how people currently feel about living in a pluralistic society, side-by-side with those who are different from them. The study found that large numbers of Americans reported having little contact with people of different religions, races, or political beliefs. Listen to a reporter involved in the study discuss the poll results and then debate: Is pluralism still an American ideal?
March 7, 2019
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting off big in 2019 with Captain Marvel. The film, which features a superheroine battling evil, is the first ever movie in the Marvel Universe with a female lead. In order to do the character and story justice, Marvel hired not only a female director, but also female producers and writers. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of those writers, and her experience has shown her that opportunities are limited for female screenwriters. The film industry has been historically dominated by men, which has had an impact on how female characters have been portrayed. Listen to a Captain Marvel screenwriter describe her experience as a woman in the film industry.
March 6, 2019
While living in California is often associated with beautiful beaches, mountains, and movie stars, millions of Californians actually live in areas with high levels of pollution in both the air and the soil. Imperial County is one of three areas in California that does not meet the federal standards for air quality. This pollution has caused major health issues for its mostly low-income residents. Some who moved there for opportunity now worry about the health of their children. Listen to a family that moved to Imperial County to pursue their own California dream discuss how living in a highly polluted environment has affected them.
This story was produced as part of the California Dream series.The California Dream series is a statewide media collaboration of CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation.
March 5, 2019
A journalist in the Philippines who has been critical of the government was recently arrested for the sixth time, raising concerns among champions of press freedom around the world. The arrest was based on false charges, and the journalist may be in danger in a country where the press has been regularly targeted by an authoritarian government. Listen to this interview with a representative of Reporters without Borders, an organization that reports on press freedom, about the risks facing journalists worldwide.
March 4, 2019
Teachers across the country have been striking this year, asking for support in the form of smaller class sizes, more school nurses and counselors, and pay raises. While their specific demands differ somewhat across school districts, there are common themes. In addition to asking for higher pay for the work that they do, teachers are asking for improvements that would better meet the needs of students. In some cases, they are protesting policies that they believe are not helping students. Listen to this story to learn more about the recent national trend of organized teacher protests.
March 1, 2019
Most of those infected with measles during a recent outbreak in the Pacific Northwest were unvaccinated children. While doctors and public health officials strongly recommend vaccinations, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Parents’ wishes, however, may differ from those of their children. Listen to this interview with a high school student who decided to get vaccinated when he turned 18, against his mother’s wishes, and debate: Should teens control their own health care?
February 28, 2019
It has been one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting sparked a national movement led by survivors aimed at decreasing gun violence. The student activists who organized the March for Our Lives protests engaged people around the world in speaking out against gun violence and speaking up for policies to prevent it. Listen to this interview with a journalist who has written a book about the events and reflects on what the students have accomplished in the year since the shooting.
February 27, 2019
In order to better understand head injuries and their risks, researchers from Washington University in St.Louis have been investigating the kinds of impacts that soccer players experience when heading the ball. To understand how much of that force of impact reaches the brain, they use a specialized MRI machine. Listen to this story to hear what the researchers learned about how our anatomy protects our brains and which types of impact cause the most damage.
February 26, 2019
Jonah Larson has become a very successful artisan and entrepreneur at the age of eleven. Larson got his start crocheting from watching YouTube videos, and now the pre-teen has become a social media star himself. The young entrepreneur sells his handcrafted products through his very popular Instagram page. Larsen’s business has grown so much that he has had to pause new orders as he catches up on old ones. Listen to hear how Jonah learned to crochet and what is next for this enterprising sixth grader.
February 25, 2019
President Trump declared a national emergency so he could reallocate funds to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, which Congress did not agree to fund. In response, there are many lawsuits being filed, arguing that the president is exercising his executive power in a way that is unconstitutional in order to bypass the budgetary authority of Congress. The emergency declaration follows a long government shutdown, which occurred because Congress would not agree to fund the border wall that the president wanted. Listen to hear more about what might unfold as a result of this emergency declaration.
February 22, 2019
A recent lawsuit against Harvard University alleged that the university discriminates unfairly against Asian-Americans in its admissions process. The trial led to an internal investigation at Harvard and the public release of admissions data indicating that Asian-Americans made up a much lower percentage of the class than they would have if admissions were based only on academic achievement. Some are concerned that the lawsuit may dismantle affirmative action practices that have ensured diversity at selective colleges. Listen to hear commentary from an Asian- American who attended an elite college and then debate: Should race be considered in college admissions?
February 21, 2019
The state of Virginia has been steeped in controversy about past actions of key elected leaders, including calls for their resignations. Both the governor and the attorney general have revealed that they wore blackface when in costume years ago, saying that they did not realize how offensive it is. Many are not aware of the history of blackface, dating to the late 19th century, when white people would darken their faces and perform minstrel shows, which depicted African-Americans in derogatory, dehumanizing ways. Listen to this interview with a journalist who explains the history of blackface in America and why it remains controversial today.
February 20, 2019
The governor of Washington state has declared a state of emergency because of a recent measles outbreak. The majority of those sick from measles are children who were not vaccinated. Washington state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Measles is very contagious, and people who are not vaccinated are at high risk of catching the disease when exposed to it. Listen to hear more about the role vaccinations play in public health and what Washington is doing to contain this dangerous measles outbreak.
February 19, 2019
The comic strip Baldo has been published in newspapers across the United States for 20 years. It was the first ever to feature a Latino family as the main characters. Hector Cantu, the author of Baldo was inspired to create the comic strip after noticing how few Latino characters were represented in comics. Baldo features fictional characters who deal with real life issues. Listen to this story to hear from the author of Baldo about the creation of this ground-breaking work.
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.