TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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June 6, 2018
In 2016, professional football player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem before a game in order to protest social inequality and police treatment of minorities. Since then, some football players have continued to kneel during the national anthem, prompting reactions from fans, fellow players, the NFL, team owners, and even President Trump. The NFL recently decided that no players will be allowed to kneel during the national anthem. The football players’ union is unhappy with this decision. Listen to learn more about the NFL’s ruling.
June 5, 2018
A teenager recently discovered what turned out to be the fossil of a large, dinosaur-eating crocodile in northern Texas. Many amateur fossil hunters enjoy looking for ancient animals’ bones in this rocky area. At the site, for example, a combination of harsh living conditions exposed dirt makes it easier to uncover all sorts of fossils. An expert explains how fossil hunters help him discover ancient species. He also describes why dinosaurs fascinate us and how they can help us learn more about science. Listen to learn more about this dinosaur-eating crocodile.
June 4, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that states can decide for themselves whether or not to make sports betting legal. This means that many states will likely legalize gambling on athletic events soon. Some experts suggest that betting will help engage sports fans in games. Gambling will also make sports leagues much more money. However, others are worried that sports betting could lead to corruption, especially for amateur or student athletes. Listen to learn more about the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue and what legalizing sports betting may mean for American athletics.
June 1, 2018
Many police departments already use basic facial recognition software, but more advanced technology in this area is raising new questions about what information law enforcement should or should not be able to instantly access. The latest software can rapidly identify people in all sorts of poses and situations, making it appealing for both businesses and law enforcement. If implemented, experts worry that it could make remaining anonymous in day-to-day life virtually impossible. Listen to this story about real-time facial recognition software and debate: Should police use facial recognition?
May 31, 2018
A sound clip of a voice saying a single word has recently sparked intense debate on the Internet. When listening to this now viral piece of audio, some hear “Yanny,” while others hear “Laurel.” A neurobiology professor weighs in on this question and explains the science behind why some people hear one word and others hear another. To finally settle the question, the hosts of the show find the source of the original audio, which reveals the actual word that was recorded. Listen to hear the famous clip and learn more about what it means.
May 30, 2018
A high-tech vaping tool called a JUUL is designed to help adult smokers quit smoking traditional cigarettes by allowing them to inhale nicotine, the main addictive ingredient in tobacco products, along with a variety of flavors. Unfortunately, the cool design and fun flavors of these devices have also attracted teens’ attention. Many have become hooked on JUULing, as it's called by teens. To protect children from JUULing’s harmful effects, this story explains how San Francisco wants to ban all flavored tobacco products. However, opponents to this argue that adults should have access to flavored vape products so they can quit smoking.
May 29, 2018
A gunman recently shot and killed 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. This event was, unfortunately, one of many school shootings in 2018. One student, Kayte Alford, avoided injury herself, but is now grieving the loss and suffering of her classmates. During this interview just one day after the tragic incident, Alford describes how the shooting has affected her daily life and future plans. She’s afraid to leave the house, attend her high school graduation, and even go to college. Her mother and grandmother also describe their reactions to the disastrous event. Listen to hear Alford’s story.
May 25, 2018
Some California school districts recently tried providing the SAT for free during the school day for high school juniors. While the cost for this first year was funded by a grant, future years of free SATs could be provided by a California bill that would allow school districts to to pay for the SAT or ACT rather than standardized tests. Supporters of this bill think it is important to reduce barriers to taking the SAT, while opponents argue that standardized tests are absolutely necessary. Listen to this story about how one high school is offering the SAT for free and then debate: Should the SAT be free in schools?
May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.
May 23, 2018
The United States government recently passed a law that requires all major restaurant chains to post the calories of their dishes on their menus. Studies have demonstrated that having this information about their food causes diners to cut back on the number of calories they consume. This can help them lose weight and avoid the dangers of obesity, especially since some foods have more calories than you might think. Listen to learn more about this law and its benefits from two experts on nutritional policy.
May 22, 2018
The United States recently moved its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump’s reasoning for this move is that the U.S. wants to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. This is a complicated and contentious issue, since the Palestinian people argue that Jerusalem is actually the capital of their nation. The opening of the new Embassy caused protests by Palestinians in Gaza and Israeli troops opened fire killing more than 40 people.
May 21, 2018
President Trump recently announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Under this agreement, Iran promised to reduce its mining and stockpiling of uranium and plutonium, key ingredients in nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. and a variety of European countries agreed to begin trading with Iran again. With the U.S. no longer participating in the deal, it will re-impose financial penalties and trade restrictions. Experts are concerned that these sanctions will accelerate Iran’s dangerous nuclear program. Listen to hear President Trump’s reasoning for this decision.
May 18, 2018
In the wake of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, discussions about how to keep students safe have resurfaced. One approach is to employ school resource officers (SROs), police who monitor school grounds and respond to any threats. About 30 percent of all schools utilize SROs, but studies reveal that having dedicated police officers on campus doesn’t improve safety. In addition, SROs can actually cause issues for students, making their suspension, expulsion, or even arrest more likely. This is particularly problematic for students of color. For these reasons, some students argue that the money spent on SROs should be directed to other programs. Listen to hear more about the SRO debate: Do Police in Schools Make it Safer?
May 17, 2018
Scientists have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds, even when they sound almost the same. This process is similar to how the brain processes visual information. The research team used monkey calls in their experiment and taught volunteers to recognize them. Then the volunteers’ brains were studied. Listen to hear more about this discovery about sounds and what the new studies may help us understand.
May 16, 2018
About 150 migrants have reached the entrance to a U.S. border station in Tijuana, Mexico. They came in a caravan from Central America, sleeping on the tops of trains to escape violence in their own countries. They are applying for political asylum, but U.S. officials say they can only take a limited number of asylum applications. The United States law is intended to provide a safe haven for people who can prove they are fleeing persecution in their home countries. Listen to hear more about migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
May 15, 2018
The demographic shifts in Texas may preview changes in all of America. More Americans being born and growing up in Texas today are people of color. These populations have experienced economic inequality and lack of opportunities. Making changes and investing in education may help reduce some effects of these inequalities. The growing numbers of Latinos, African Americans and Asians may also change Texas politically as young people become more active in speaking up and voting. Listen to hear about the changes that are seen in Texas demographics and the changes that could help to ensure the success of all Americans.
May 14, 2018
On Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kilauea volcano sent a pool of lava back underground causing small earthquakes. At least 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate after the volcano erupted. In some neighborhoods, lava is splitting the ground open and exposing molten rock that can shoot high in the air. The lava has covered over an acre of land and hundreds of small earthquakes have been shaking the ground. The Governor and National Guard have been working to ensure the safety of all residents. Listen to hear more about the volcano and earthquakes in Hawaii.
May 11, 2018
After recent mass shootings there has been a lot of talk about guns. In this country, it's hard to restrict guns because of the Second Amendment. There is a large divide between people supporting gun rights and people supporting gun control. The current politics in the United States do not support changing our Constitution, even after many mass shootings. But, the Supreme Court has said that the individual right to bear arms may be regulated. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we repeal the Second Amendment?
May 10, 2018
Over the past 125,000 years, mammals on Earth have become smaller. Ten thousand years ago the average mass of a mammal was 200 pounds and today the average mass is about 15 pounds. After dinosaurs became extinct, mammals became larger and new species developed. But when ancient humans evolved, they began hunting bigger animals. Eventually, in all areas populated by humans, the size of mammals became smaller and led to extinction in many cases. Listen to hear more about the effects humans have had on the size of mammals.
May 9, 2018
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama. This memorial is devoted to the more than 4,000 African Americans who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. Killing for an alleged offense and without a legal trial was allowed in some parts of the South during this time period. Visitors are reminded of what happened in our past and encouraged to confront America’s continued racial divide. Listen to this story about this memorial that helps us to remember the thousands of Americans who were killed because of racism.
May 8, 2018
A workshop in North Texas aims to give people who have money the experience of what it’s like for people who live in poverty. Whether it's cashing a check, sending money to family, or trying to borrow money, people living in poverty have a different experience from others. This workshop simulation has people cash checks and complete other tasks without a bank account, social security number or a car. Listen to what they learn.
May 7, 2018
The leaders of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, and South Korea, Moon Jae-in, have agreed to seek elimination of nuclear weapons from Korea. They met during an historic summit where they discussed a potential peace deal to end the Korean war. During this meeting, they also signed a declaration and made a joint announcement standing side by side. Moon and Kim also had a private conversation with each other, without cameras or their aides. Listen to hear more about these steps toward peace in the Korean peninsula.
May 4, 2018
A lot of classroom skeletons, in high schools, universities and medical schools, are real human bones. A former student investigated the skeleton that hung in the back of her high school classroom. She consulted with the Smithsonian, and with a lab at Penn State and analyzed the skeleton to find out where it was from, how old it was and even what the person ate. In the 1800s there was a legal trade in human bones, which leads to some tricky questions about whether skeletons should be used in classrooms at all. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools keep using classroom skeletons?
May 3, 2018
Offshore wind can be a big business, and property that is windy with shallow water is perfect for installing and maintaining wind turbines. The federal government has leased sites for developers to build industrial-scale wind farms over the next decade. The area of New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is close to Rhode Island and New York, is an area with a sustainable wind source. The developers are very engaged with fishermen in the area, since the spinning blades confuse the instruments they use to navigate through fog. By working together, turbines can be put in locations that won’t interfere with fishermen’s routes. Listen to hear more about offshore wind projects in this area.
May 2, 2018
High school seniors applying for college often hear from schools in April. It’s a stressful time and students are eager to hear from their first choice colleges. More and more colleges are putting students on a waitlist instead of giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This gives the colleges more options and a wider pool of students to choose from. But it also can be misleading if only one or two percent of the students on the waitlist are actually accepted to attend the college. Listen to hear from a college admissions adviser who criticizes this practice.
May 1, 2018
The rules for mining on public land, which have been around since the 1870s, were used by miners during the Gold Rush. Since then the mining law has not changed. The law doesn’t require mining companies to pay royalties for mining on federal land. Some lawmakers object to the law and say the government is losing out. They’ve sponsored a new bill, but it hasn’t passed. Meanwhile, President Trump has opened more public land to mining in California and Utah. Listen to hear about mining rights on public land.
April 30, 2018
Two black men were arrested at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were there for a business meeting and when they didn’t order drinks, the manager called the police. The men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing and were later released. Starbucks is now conducting racial bias education for all employees at their 8,000 stores. Implicit bias is our automatic processing of negative stereotypes that become embedded in our brains. The workshop is hoping to take a step toward retraining people’s brains to see others differently. Listen to hear more about the ways people can override our racial bias.
April 27, 2018
Youth organizers want the voting age lowered to 16. There have been some successes and some setbacks in this effort. People who want to keep the voting age at 18 cite issues with maturity and think this might support Democrats only, however 50 percent of millennials self-identify as political independents. Other say that many issues affect 16 and 17 year olds, so they should be allowed to vote on them. Listen to hear from a youth advisory board member for Vote16USA and then debate: Should the voting age be lowered?
April 26, 2018
The shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police in Sacramento, California, sparked outrage and demands for police reform. In Sacramento there is a call to rebuild communities of color. Stephon’s brother, Ste’Vante Clark is part of a group of new activists, called Build. Black. Coalition. They want to lessen the disparity around education, job opportunity, and housing, which affects the people living in predominantly black neighborhoods. Listen to hear more about how this tragic event is sparking activism to try to transform black communities.
April 25, 2018
In 1967, President Johnson addressed the nation after five days of rioting that was motivated by racial inequality in Detroit. Johnson announced a commission on civil disorders, which would attempt to explain why so many of the country’s cities erupted in riots. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, called "The Kerner Report," determined that white racism and the black frustration at lack of economic opportunity was the cause of the riots. Many people at the time disagreed with the conclusions. Listen to learn more about the Kerner Report and what this report can tell us about racial tensions today.
April 24, 2018
Refugees arriving in the United States typically get 3 months of government funded support. It’s often not enough time to adjust and learn everything from navigating the medical system to finding transportation and a job. One teacher in Virginia started a non-profit to connect refugees with people in the community to help them adjust to a new country and culture. Listen to hear more about this program.
April 23, 2018
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress about how the social media giant protects the privacy of its users. He was questioned about how the political data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data from millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg was forced to acknowledge that Facebook extensively tracks users when they are using the site and when they are not even logged in. Several members of Congress asked whether Zuckerberg thought Facebook should be regulated. Listen to hear more about Zuckerberg’s statements in his testimony before Congress.
April 20, 2018
New technology can help athletes gain a deeper understanding of how their bodies work. By submitting their DNA, athletes can see the results of their genetic fitness assessment. This can help athletes personalize their training routine, gain information about their ability to build muscle, or find out how prone they are to joint injuries. The results are organized in categories to let people know what they need to work on. Listen to learn more about this new technology and then debate: Should DNA determine the sport you play?
April 19, 2018
Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood and as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don't get the care that could help them. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines that call for universal screening for depression. They suggest that all teens over the age of 12 be screened during a visit to their doctor’s office. Listen to hear more about the effort to identify teens with depression.
April 18, 2018
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. flew to Memphis to support sanitation workers during a strike. In 1968 the working conditions were so dangerous for trash collectors that two men were killed on the job. The workers organized to demand better working conditions and higher pay. In a climate of racism they demanded to be treated with humanity and respect as men. When King traveled to Memphis, he was assassinated. Listen to this story to hear how Memphis has changed in the last 50 years.
April 17, 2018
A group of Dallas teens are learning history on their spring break. They are taking a civil rights tour from Dallas to Brownsville, Texas and places in-between to learn more about Mexican-American history. Students are watching traditional Aztec dances, learning about community responsibility, and hearing from Mexican-American activists. Listen to hear more about this program and how it’s inspiring students to learn about and be proud of their history.
April 16, 2018
President Trump and President Xi Jinpin of China have said they are going to impose taxes on imports and exports from each others’ countries. Because China is imposing its own tariffs in response, American businesses and consumers may see cost increases. The tariff dispute has created concern that this might escalate into a trade war. Listen to hear more about the promised changes in trade between the United States and China.
April 13, 2018
A new report has highlighted that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has financial connections to hundreds of American schools. The NRA Foundation spends millions funding school clubs and organizations for students both in school and after school. Since the mass shooting at a high school in Florida, some schools have stopped taking these funds and are sending back equipment from the NRA. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools refuse money from the NRA?
April 12, 2018
April is National Poetry Month. To kick off the month, professor and U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, discusses writing poetry and what inspires her. She believes poetry helps us be more introspective, especially in this era of information overload with technology. Listen to hear more about poetry and writing from this Poet Laureate.
April 11, 2018
In Sacramento, California, a new program was started to help refugees and immigrants understand their legal rights. The “Understanding Your RIghts” program was sparked by an increase in refugee groups moving into the area, and a need to educate these newly arrived people of their rights. Listen to hear more about this new program that will help people understand the laws in the United States.