TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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April 10, 2018
In the United States during the era of slavery, it was illegal for all African Americans, enslaved and free, to learn to read and write. But in 1863 the first school for freed slaves opened and by the end of the 19th century, black colleges supported civil rights activism and helped redefine what it meant to be black in America. A new documentary tells about the history of black colleges and the goals of these educational institutions. Listen to this story to hear more about the creation and development of historically black colleges and universities.
April 9, 2018
Every ten years the U.S. Census Bureau aims to count every person living in the United States. Data from the census directly affects how billions of dollars in federal and state aid is given to local and state governments. The next census is on April 1, 2020, and the questions have been approved and released. Included in this census is the question: Is this person a citizen of the United States? Some states have fears about how this question will affect the response rate, and then affect their state budgets. Listen to hear more about the changes to the 2020 census questions.
April 6, 2018
Uber, a ride-sharing company, has expanded into new areas such as self-driving cars and food delivery. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first pedestrian death involving a vehicle that was self-driving. There was a driver in the car in case of an emergency, however the accident was not avoided. Listen to hear how this accident might affect new laws related to safety and self-driving cars, as well as the factors involved in this tragic accident and then debate: Are self-driving cars safe?
April 5, 2018
NASA scientists now know more about how space travel affects the human body. They were able to study the genes of identical twins. One who went into space for a year and one who stayed on Earth. Since they share the same DNA profile, scientists had a chance to study changes to their bodies as well as changes to their DNA. The study showed that genes do change in space and remain changed even months after returning to Earth. Listen to learn more about how space travel can change human DNA.
April 4, 2018
Since 1985, women in Iran have been required by the Islamic Republic to wear a headscarf called a hijab in public, regardless of their religious beliefs. Today Iranian women are protesting this mandatory law. Police have arrested 29 women for publicly protesting the veil covering. This silent protest includes women taking off their headscarves and holding them on sticks in silent protest. Listen to hear more about this protest and its effects.
April 3, 2018
The Trump administration designated March 5, 2018 as the last day that recipients of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, could apply to renew their status. But the fate of these young people is still uncertain as Congress hasn’t reached a compromise on this issue. One DACA recipient is a woman who graduated from college and is supporting her family on her teacher’s salary. But her younger sister is not protected by DACA. Listen to this story to learn more about the effects of the government’s decision not to accept new DACA applications.
April 2, 2018
Sparked by outrage over the Parkland, Florida school shooting, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C. to demand gun regulation in an event called "March for Our Lives." It was one of the biggest rallies for gun control ever and over a million people marched in cities across America and around the globe. The survivors of the Parkland shooting helped organize the events and spoke at several rallies. Listen to hear the reactions of people who attended the rally to push for changes in gun laws.
March 30, 2018
For the last few decades, the most prominent toy store in the United States was Toys R Us. Recently this toy store announced that it would lay off its remaining 33,000 employees, declare bankruptcy, and close its doors. People are reacting with nostalgia for these stores and discussing how shopping experiences have changed. Listen to the reactions of these people to the closing of Toys R Us stores and debate: Are toy stores necessary?
March 29, 2018
During the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, observant Jews follow a set of kosher laws. Kosher food refers to the types of food and ways of preparing food that follow Biblical laws. Orthodox Jews follow these religious laws very closely and do not eat or drink what is not kosher. During Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened products and during the Passover Seder meals, and they drink the ‘fruit of the vine” or grape juice as an important part of the observance. There is currently some competition for Orthodox shoppers in the grape juice business. Listen to hear more about Passover and the market for grape juice.
March 28, 2018
Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.
March 27, 2018
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 19 Russians over their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Many were also a part of the indictments issued as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian interference in the election. Also sanctioned was the Internet Research Agency, which created fake news and made up Twitter accounts to look like Americans to spread disinformation during the campaign. Listen to hear more about these sanctions and what they might lead to in the future.
March 26, 2018
Across the country students walked out of their classrooms to protest the mass shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and called for stricter gun laws. The protest was 17 minutes long in honor of each person killed during the shooting. There was another protest on March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country called March for Our Lives, which aimed to end gun violence and mass shootings. Listen to hear from students at a high school in Philadelphia during the walk out, and more about these protests.
March 23, 2018
President Trump met with governors at the White House to discuss gun policy and school safety. He wants to see more teachers armed, making sure they are appropriately trained and have the right skills. Some people think that would be a good defense against school shooters, but many teachers do not want to carry a weapon in the classroom. Listen to hear more about guns in schools and what might be done to keep students safe and then debate: Should teachers carry guns?
March 22, 2018
The Trump administration has proposed changing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The plan would provide people with nonperishable foods that are chosen for them instead of fresh foods they choose themselves. Native Americans recognized this as the same type of food assistance they have historically received, with devastating impacts on their health. Listen to hear more about food assistance in the past and in the possible future.
March 21, 2018
The demand for convenience is creating problems on sidewalks in China, especially in its largest cities. Shared bikes and food delivery on scooters are causing clutter and congestion on sidewalks. In Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, shared bikes are left on the sidewalk, piled on top of each other. Food delivery scooters have no dedicated lanes in the street, so they speed through pedestrians on the sidewalk trying to make deliveries on time. With such limited walking space left on the sidewalk, people sometimes walk in the road which is dangerous. Listen to hear more about the problems the convenience economy has created in China.
March 20, 2018
Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry and writing was well known by many African-Americans who read a paper called the Chicago Defender. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, her writing became known by white people as well. She influenced and inspired other writers such as Toni Morrison, and funded programs and prizes to encourage people to write poetry. Listen to this story about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks.
March 19, 2018
President Donald Trump has agreed to direct talks with Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea. Since Trump took office, the two leaders have called each other names and threatened each other’s countries. The United States has many nuclear weapons and North Korea has been developing missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and could reach the U.S. This potentially historic meeting could lead to negotiations about nuclear disarmament. According to past experience, however, North Korea will be a tough negotiator. Listen to hear more about the goals for this potential meeting.
March 16, 2018
A false nuclear missile attack alert was recently sent to the phones of residents and visitors in Hawaii. It was sent by a state emergency management worker who believed the drill was a real attack. This has highlighted the disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks. Federal officials would like the warning to come from local authorities, but there is legislation introduced to make the public warnings the sole responsibility of the federal government. Listen to hear more about this issue and then debate: Who should warn the public of nuclear war?
March 15, 2018
Money, secret deals, and big names in college basketball are involved in an ongoing federal investigation. Coaches, sneaker executives, and others are being investigated for bribery and fraud at the start of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, or March Madness. Ten men were arrested on a variety of charges including taking bribes and using money to place players in certain colleges. This illegal activity has been going on for decades and there are questions about whether these investigations will change the culture of men’s college basketball. Listen to learn more about these corruption charges.
March 14, 2018
Happy Pi Day! March 14 is celebrated in different ways in cities across the country. Pi, or 3.14, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits. It was named for the Greek letter Pi, which corresponds with the letter ‘P’ which stands for the perimeter of the circle. Pi is an irrational number whose decimals continue infinitely, but it is also a delicious dessert. Listen to hear more about celebrating Pi Day.
March 13, 2018
One University professor is combining scholarship with an exploration of the Latino culture using the rich history of tacos. He uses food to connect his students to Mexican people and their narratives. Students travel to a taqueria to explore the food of Mexico, discussing history and culture to create understanding along with identifying misconceptions. Listen to hear this professor discuss questions of cultural appropriation and relationships to power as he teaches his students about Mexican culture using food.
March 12, 2018
There are double the number of women running for Congress in 2018 than there were in 2016. At latest count, 430 women may run for the U.S. House of Representatives nationwide and about 50 for the Senate. This year is on track to break records, with a very large majority of these women running as Democrats. Along with running for office, women are organizing, volunteering, and being more vocal about what is important to them. Listen to hear more about this trend of more women entering politics.
March 9, 2018
Firstborn children often have an advantage over their younger siblings. They get more attention from their parents because they are alone for the first months or years of their lives. But are they more successful? A new research study finds that firstborn sons are more likely to become CEOs. The research on birth order is interesting since some things can influence a person’s behavior, but a person’s fate is not determined solely by birth order. Listen to hear more about what this research study found and then debate: Does birth order matter?
March 8, 2018
Nellie Bly was a female reporter from Pittsburgh, PA in the late 1800s. Bly became famous for her daring reporting methods, such as pretending to be mentally ill in order to be committed to an insane asylum so she could write about the treatment of patients. Tired of writing “women’s stories” early in her career, Bly learned that she could get more attention and opportunities when she inserted herself into her stories. Listen to learn more about female pioneer Nellie Bly and her highly modern approach to journalism.
March 7, 2018
Voice-activated devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, always have their microphones on. They are passively listening until you say the “wake” word, but people are worried they are listening and recording every single thing that is said. The owners of the devices can go into the app to see a history of everything that is heard by the device. One concern is that this data could be used to look for evidence that could help to prosecute crimes, or be reviewed by the National Security Agency. Listen to this story to hear about the pros and cons of voice-activated devices and their impact on privacy.
March 6, 2018
Research on former players of the National Football League shows that brain injury is linked to repeated blunt impact. But little is known about the connection between football, brain damage, and young players. A scientist in Texas studied football players between 8 and 18 year old and measured how their brains changed after one season. They used sensors in football helmets to tell how hard the players were getting hit. Listen to hear the results of this study and suggestions for preventing these injuries.
March 5, 2018
In China, the president serves two five-year terms, according to its constitution. The Communist Party has now proposed changing the constitution and eliminating the term limits for presidents. China’s current leader, Xi Jinping may not retire after the standard 10 years in power. He also holds two other positions which outrank the presidency. He is the head of China’s Communist Party and the military. Listen to this story about the changes in term limits and discuss what this might mean for China.
March 2, 2018
Many kids receive a trophy, medal or ribbon for participating in sports, science fairs, or other competitions. Some think it’s sending a dangerous message to kids, telling them that they will be rewarded regardless of their effort or success. Some think the trophies are an important marker of participation and they mean something to kids. Listen to experts, as well as the reporter, as they describe their thoughts on giving trophies for participation, and then debate: Should all kids get a trophy?
March 1, 2018
The movie about the superhero Black Panther is a phenomenon. The stars of the movie are black actors and it takes place in a fictitious African country that was never colonized by Europeans. The Black Panther has characters who are rulers of kingdoms, inventors, creators of advanced technology, and fierce women warriors who protect the king. Crowdfunders across the U.S. are raising money to take entire groups of kids to see this movie. Listen to this story to hear the reaction of fifth grade students after they saw the Black Panther.
February 28, 2018
A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds that most high school seniors do not fully understand the history of slavery in the U.S. The study also finds that educators often are not provided with good materials, training, or standards for teaching students about slavery in American schools. It’s an uncomfortable subject, and many curriculum materials guide teachers to highlight heroes, such as Harriet Tubman, before teaching about the realities of slavery. Listen to this story to hear about problems and possible solutions to understanding the history and of slavery and its relevance today.
February 27, 2018
Students who witnessed the deadly school shooting in Florida are channeling their rage and grief into activism for gun reform. The classmates of the 17 people who were killed by a gunman in a Parkland, Florida high school are demanding state lawmakers ban assault rifles. There are protests and school walkouts planned across the country, in an effort to encourage lawmakers to rethink their positions on guns. Listen to one of the the high school students who survived the shooting as she talks about why she has become a gun control activist.
February 26, 2018
A grand jury indicted 13 Russians for carrying out "information warfare" in an elaborate effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictments describe years of efforts in which hundreds of well-funded and sophisticated Russians accumulated social media followers, spread distrust, and divided Americans against each other. The indictment says Americans who worked with the groups didn’t know they were working with Russian operatives. Listen to hear more about what the indictments mean for these 13 Russians as well as for Americans.
February 23, 2018
THE LISTENING OLYMPICS IS NOW CLOSED. WE WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS SOON!
It’s time to go for the gold!
Click the assign quiz button in the top right corner to assign the Listening Olympics Quiz to your students!
The quiz will be open until Friday March 2nd. Remember, once students start the quiz they cannot pause it and can’t take it twice.
February 23, 2018
The first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was a sheep named Dolly in 1997. The Dolly clone proved that cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from. Since then, scientists have been trying to use the same technique to clone other animals. Dogs, pigs and other animals have been successfully cloned, but the first primate clones were recently born in China. Since monkeys are people’s closest relatives, this may allow scientists to study human diseases and develop cures. Listen to hear about the benefits and concerns of cloning primates and then debate: Should we clone monkeys?
February 22, 2018
Traveling in space for months at a time may be possible soon. Packing all of the food and water needed would take a lot of space and fuel. American crews on the International Space Station already recycle their own sweat and urine, and now scientists are finding ways to recycle other waste products including feces. Bacteria helps to break down human waste and at the end of the process make it into food that can supplement an astronaut’s diet. Listen to hear more about the next steps in making recycling poop in space a reality.
February 20, 2018
Some events can deeply connect two people. In this story a 12 year old girl’s life was saved, and it took over 50 years for her to find the one who saved her. In 1967 two girls were at a camp and one was struck by lightning and fell unconscious. The boom of lightning made the other girls run from the cabin but when one girl realized she wasn’t with them, she went back to get her. That action saved her life. Listen as these two women reconnect for the first time since that event to say thank you and tell their stories.
February 19, 2018
One of the biggest names from Team USA at the Winter Olympics is Maame Biney. She is only 18 and has explosive speed on the ice. She came to the United States from Ghana when she was 5 years old and became the first African-American woman ever to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team on the short track speed skating. Her father is with her in South Korea, where she is competing against the best speed skaters in the world. Listen to this story to hear Biney describe herself on the ice.
February 16, 2018
Instead of going to a restaurant to pick up food, you can have it delivered to your home. That’s nothing new. But some restaurants are experimenting with using a robot to deliver orders. The robot is equipped with cameras that allow it to observe the street signs, lights, and roads around them to know how and when to cross streets. Some fear this invention may replace jobs held by people, but the company says they are not a replacement for humans. Listen to learn the capabilities of these delivery robots and then debate: Are deliveries by robots a good idea?
February 15, 2018
In Spain, Catholics remember the patron saint of animals, San Anton, with a festival that celebrates pets. Dogs, cats, birds, and sheep are walked down the streets in the arms of their owners. The pet owners travel to church so that their pets can be blessed. Many have looked to San Anton to help with their animals, and many believe it is important to have a day celebrating this saint. Listen to learn about the variety of animals involved and how they react to the pet blessing.
February 14, 2018
The Olympic sport of skeleton involves athletes tobogganing through an icy path at extreme speeds. Some athletes love the rush of running onto the ice then relaxing their bodies enough so that they can focus on the curves ahead on the track. To observers of the sport, it is terrifying to see someone going this fast with what seems like no control. Listen to learn what it feels like for these athletes and what type of athlete is ideal for the sport of skeleton.