TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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June 13, 2016
For the first time in U.S. history, a woman will be a nominee for President. Hillary Clinton has become the first woman to be the presumptive nominee of an American political party. No other woman has made it this far in climbing the political ladder to the presidency. In marking the moment, Clinton delivered a speech from a hall with a glass ceiling and reflected on how the metaphorical glass ceiling has held women back in politics.
June 11, 2016
Beginning 200 years ago, many of Vermont’s rivers were straightened for agriculture, logging and to power turbines. Today one of three river miles in Vermont has been straightened, causing the waters to run deeper and faster – and erode away people’s property and roads. Vermont has experienced three 100-year floods in the past 30 years. Traditionally, the state and property owners have built expensive barriers to keep the rivers in line. Now the state is thinking about taking a new approach to floods: creating zones along the riverbanks where no new construction is allowed to let the rivers flow where they naturally want. Listen to this VPR News story and then use the questions below to discuss the issues it raises.
June 9, 2016
Boxer Muhammad Ali is being remembered as a great athlete and humanitarian. He was a 3-time Heavyweight World Champion and inspired generations of people. When he became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, he was barred from boxing for over three years. When he converted to Islam, he became an ambassador for his religion. He never apologized for his beliefs, even at great personal cost. Listen to hear more about Ali, who was an example of integrity and self-confidence around the world.
June 8, 2016
Building anything from steel, such as buildings or cars, requires an understanding of how the material responds to force. And yet the largest machine in the world that measures force on steel is decades old. This machine measures compression and tension force, up to a million pounds. It was recently restored and refurbished, and could keep measuring force for another 50 years. Listen to hear about this valuable machine.
June 6, 2016
Obama recently visited Hiroshima, Japan, to honor the memory of all who lost their lives in World War II. The city was the first to be hit with an atomic weapon in 1945. Nagasaki was the second. Obama is the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima. He did not apologize for using nuclear weapons on Japan during his visit, but paid respect to the victims. Listen to hear more about this historic visit.
June 3, 2016
Sending someone to jail because they can’t pay a debt is against the law. But often courts in the United States imprison people who cannot pay court fines. For example, homeless people can be ticketed for sleeping in a park and then put into prison for not paying the fine. The city of Colorado Springs is stopping this practice. The city is also paying people who have previously been held in jail under these circumstances. Listen to hear more about this new policy and debate the pros and cons with your students.
June 2, 2016
Two recent incidents at Yellowstone National Park highlight a problem. In one incident, visitors walked off the boardwalk at a hotspring, and in another, visitors put a bison calf in their trunk to keep it warm. There are record numbers of visitors to National Parks and educating them all about wildlife and safety is a huge task. Regardless of visitor’s intentions, park officials are hoping to reduce the numbers of incidents. Listen to hear more about managing visitors’ behavior at National Parks.
June 1, 2016
When Christopher Columbus was on his way back to Spain, he wrote a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella describing his voyage to the new world. Copies of this letter were made to spread the word of his discoveries. At some point before 1992, one copy of the letter was stolen from Florence, Italy and replaced by a forged copy. Then that copy of the letter ended up in the Library of Congress. The United States has now returned the letter to its place in Italy. Listen to hear more about what happened to this historic document.
May 31, 2016
President Obama visited Vietnam recently, making him only the third U.S. President to visit this country. The Vietnam War ended in 1975 when the U.S. withdrew combat forces and the country was united under communism. For the last 50 years the U.S. has banned weapons sales to the communist government. Obama ended that ban in Vietnam because as China becomes aggressive in the Western Pacific, the United States wants to strengthening its ties to Vietnam. China and Vietnam are neighbors and share Communist ideology. Listen to hear more about this new policy.
May 27, 2016
Poverty is an ongoing problem that is difficult to solve. One charity is addressing global poverty in a new, unique way. It is planning to provide people living in poverty with guaranteed annual salaries for about a decade. The charity’s co-founder says that people living in poverty are capable of making smart decisions about how to spend their money. These salaries will enable the poor to take steps to improve their own lives. Listen to learn more about how “universal basic income” may change people’s lives for the better.
May 26, 2016
Scientists recently made an exciting discovery. They spotted three, earth-sized planets beyond our solar system. Though scientists have found many planets in the past, these particular ones are special because they may potentially support life. They each orbit a reddish “dwarf star” that is smaller than our sun and much cooler. Scientists used to ignore these dwarf stars, but now we know that such stars can produce planets worth studying. Scientists will continue to analyze these planets to find out more about their atmospheres and properties. Listen to hear more about these three newly-discovered worlds.
May 25, 2016
The hit musical “Hamilton,” which tells the story of our nation’s first treasury secretary, has captured the attention of audiences around the country. Now, a Hamilton-based curriculum uses the play and its catchy music to teach history. Students have the opportunity to go to the musical, read related historical documents, and create their own projects inspired by the play. These activities help students empathize with important figures from our past and view history from diverse perspectives. Listen to hear more about how “Hamilton” is educating and inspiring students.
May 24, 2016
The White House, along with the departments of Justice and Education, say schools must let transgender students use the bathroom they identify with. Conservative leaders in Texas responded by denouncing it. They see this directive as divisive, unsafe, and immoral. Others call this a big step for civil rights and applaud the anti-discrimination policy. In Texas, the Fort Worth school superintendent announced their public schools would accommodate transgender students. That led to Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, calling for the superintendent’s removal. Listen to hear more about how politics and public school bathrooms are related.
May 23, 2016
In 2015, worldwide religious freedom deteriorated and in some places, spiraled downward. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that violations included denying health care and voting rights, to imprisoning people of certain religions. In some countries, religious freedom is a matter of life and death, and governments fail to protect people from attacks or violence. The issue of religion can also lead to terrorist violence. The commission did not report on the status of the United States, but these global examples may put religious freedom violations in the United States into perspective.
May 21, 2016
A former high school English teacher sits down with a former student. Like many students at his high school, he never graduated. Now, his teacher asks him why. They discuss how he could have better supported his students and what they needed. The student explains that despite his kind efforts, school was always difficult for him. Listen to their conversation to hear more about the challenges of both the teacher and student.
May 20, 2016
The Obama administration promised to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country this year, but it has made little progress toward this goal. A top refugee official explains how the U.S. will keep working to fulfill this promise. Citizens and politicians alike have strong opinions on refugee issues. Some people think we must invite those in trouble into our country, while others worry that welcoming refugees could threaten our safety. Government officials hope to listen to all concerns as they work to protect people’s safety at home and abroad. Listen to this story and then have your students debate America’s responsibility to Syrian refugees.
May 19, 2016
Teenagers from low-income, immigrant families must overcome challenges in order to graduate from high school. For many new immigrants, work and family can become difficult to balance. These students often work to help support their families, which can take priority over schoolwork. One high school senior has been able to find success despite some difficult circumstances. She helps her family earn money, plays the viola, and is on track to graduate high school. Listen to her story about defying the odds.
May 18, 2016
Jose Mujica, former president of Uruguay, was widely admired for his impressive political accomplishments and humble, down-to-earth style. He lives in a simple home and travels without a limousine. While in office, he reduced poverty to single digits, increased trade and foreign investment, and improved the economics of Uruguay. After five years in office, Mr. Mujica stepped down from his position as Uruguay’s president last spring. Since then he’s been living a quiet life but he plans to be active in Uruguay’s government for years to come. Listen to hear more about this remarkable man and politician.
May 17, 2016
Electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes” have become popular in recent years, especially among kids and young people. Like tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes expose users to the addictive chemical nicotine. In order to protect kids and other users from these dangers, the Food and Drug Administration is beginning to impose restrictions on the companies that produce and sell e-cigarettes. One restriction is the first nationwide ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors. And companies will now be required to disclose the ingredients and formally apply to the FDA for approval. Listen to hear more about these new regulations and their potential impact on the e-cigarette industry.
May 16, 2016
Brazil has taken an unprecedented move and suspended its president from office pending an impeachment trial. Brazil’s Senate voted to put Dilma Rousseff on trial for impeachment for breaking financial rules. Rousseff denies any wrongdoing and plans to fight the impeachment. Almost 60 percent of Brazil’s Congress is under criminal investigation, and the acting President, Michel Temer, is also accused of profiting from a corruption scandal. As a major political and economic power in South America, Brazil’s crisis could have serious ramifications.
May 15, 2016
Yusor Abu Salha was killed in the tragic 2015 shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A year before, she had recorded an interview with her former third grade teacher and principal, Mussarut Jabeen. During their conversation, Yusor remembers Jabeen’s important lessons about how to treat others, while Jabeen remembers Yusor’s giving nature. Jabeen also knew the two other shooting victims, and remembers them fondly as well. Listen to the story to hear both Yusor and Jabeen reflect on the past.
May 14, 2016
In high school, it’s nice to know that someone is on your side. Reporter Guy Raz felt that way about his former high school guidance counselor. In this radio story, Guy sits down with his counselor Walter after twenty years, and thanks him for keeping his door open and always listening. From Walter, Guy learned important life lessons about power and respect that he still remembers today. Listen to hear this former guidance counselor and student reminisce about stories from high school.
May 13, 2016
Uber is a ride-sharing company that allows users to request rides, and allows drivers to use their own cars to provide rides. When demand for Uber rides is greater than the supply, Uber uses “surge” pricing. During surge pricing, the rides cost 2, 3, or 4 times more than they do normally. The drivers like surge pricing since it accounts for a large part of their income. But the riders don’t like surge pricing because they pay more for the same ride. Uber is planning to end surge pricing. Listen to this story and debate the rights of both the workers and the consumers. Have students think about whether consumer rights are more important than worker’s rights.
May 12, 2016
Packs of wolves in Yellowstone National Park give researchers a chance to study their behavior. When a wolf howls, a howling chorus responds. In the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups and the howls change with the seasons. Now researchers are working to understand what the howls actually mean. Listen to hear more about the way a wolf howls.
May 11, 2016
President Obama's daughter, Malia, is taking a year off before starting college in the fall. Taking a break from academics the year after high school before starting college is commonly called a "gap year." Although it’s often an option for wealthy families, it’s starting to be a real option for more high school graduates. Colleges are looking for students who have more life experience and independence. Listen to hear more about the benefits of taking a gap year.
May 10, 2016
The Himalayan country of Nepal was rocked by a devastating earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people one year ago. Today, the country still suffers from widespread homelessness, power outages and a serious lack of basic supplies. Even with the large amounts of money pledged to Nepal, none of that money actually arrived to help the people. Monsoon season is approaching and the people need more secure living situations in order to survive. Listen to hear more about the conditions in Nepal after the earthquake.
May 9, 2016
Both political parties appear to have their presidential nominee. The presumptive nominee for the Republican party is Donald Trump. Candidate Ted Cruz dropped out of the race and after this story aired, John Kasich also ended his candidacy. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won the state of Indiana and is staying in the race. But it appears all but certain that Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton will be the party’s nominee. Listen to hear more about how this year’s Presidential race is shaping up.
May 8, 2016
At some point in our lives, most of us have a tough teacher who pushes us hard to do our best. Reporter and All Things Considered Host Audie Cornish remembers her teacher of history and current events, was just that kind of teacher. Her strict teaching style clearly benefited Audie, who looks back fondly on all that she learned from her. Listen to this recent conversation between Audie and her former teacher, in which they reminisce together about their experiences as teacher and student.
May 7, 2016
In this conversation between a teacher and former student, the student, John, remembers how his teacher helped him through a difficult time. He remembers that his teacher, Mrs. Doyle, offered her support and let him know that she was there for him if he needed her. Decades later, John sent Mrs. Doyle a letter to express his gratitude. Listen to an honest and touching conversation between John and Mrs. Doyle, in which they express how they’ve impacted each other’s lives in positive ways.
May 6, 2016
A team of scientists has genetically engineered pigs to be resistant to a widespread disease. Science can engineer an animal’s DNA to introduce desirable traits and get rid of negative traits or sickness. These pigs are not being raised on farms yet, but the plan is to have food from these animals available in stores in the next five years.This technology is still new, and the Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines that have to be met before these animals will be available to the public. Listen to hear more about genetically engineered animals and then debate with your class whether you think genetically engineered animals will be safe to eat.
May 5, 2016
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, listen to this story about Kobe Bryant’s high school English teacher. Throughout the years, Jeanne Mastriano had a profound influence on the basketball star; in fact, he has even called her his “muse.” Mrs. Mastriano talks about Kobe’s old study habits, his high school passions, and a recent poem he wrote about retiring from basketball. Listen to hear more about how this high school teacher has made a positive and lasting impact on Kobe and many other students.
May 4, 2016
Colleges and Universities across the state of Texas are providing food pantries in order to keep students from going hungry. Schools don’t want students to skip meals, so they are providing this short-term fix to avoid their students going hungry. Some colleges have considered providing more access to school cafeterias or temporary meal plans for these students. Colleges don’t want to stop recruiting students who come from low income families, but they have had to increase tuition due to a decline in state funding. Listen to hear more about hunger on college campuses.
May 3, 2016
Puerto Rico is at risk of defaulting on a $400 million debt payment due May 1, 2016. House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to have a plan ready by then to help Puerto Rico find a way to repay its debt. Many people have started predicting what a collapse of the Puerto Rican economy will mean for bond markets and the U.S. economy. There is currently a plan in Congress to set up a process to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt. Listen to learn more about this crisis and how it might be solved.
May 2, 2016
Populism has been a big factor the presidential election. In both Republican and Democratic races, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into frustrations against the elites and the establishment. Many voters see this election as being about economic fairness, and they feel like they've been left behind. The resentment has become more intense and politicians who name a clear target of blame have many people rallying behind them. Listen to hear about the lasting effect this may have on American politics.
April 29, 2016
There is an important debate in the United Kingdom about whether they should stay in the European Union or leave. One opinion is that there is a huge amount of discontent with the workings of the European Union and it will dissolve in the future. Another opinion is that the European Union has helped facilitate change in Europe and has promoted democracy, human rights and market economies. Listen as two brothers debate this issue, then discuss your students’ opinions about whether Britain should leave the EU.
April 28, 2016
Outside Reno, Nevada, the company Tesla is constructing a giant battery factory. The batteries will be made for the company’s electric cars as well as other things. Known as the Gigafactory, the building will allow the company to scale up battery production and reduce the price of their electric cars. Tesla is planning to revolutionize energy use by producing something new in their Gigafactory: a “Powerwall,” or a battery for the home. Listen to the story to learn more about how Tesla’s Gigafactory may inspire innovation and lead to cleaner energy use.
April 27, 2016
Residents of one Chicago neighborhood are anticipating a big rat problem in the near future. That’s because the city is tearing down an old hospital, and the construction will likely disturb the many rodents living underground. While developers and city officials are anticipating the onslaught by setting out poison baits and traps, residents are turning to a different solution: cats. Listen to the story to find out more about how these cats can help keep rats away.
April 26, 2016
A six-year old, Dylan, has a friend with a rare liver disease. When Dylan was told that doctors needed money to find a cure to help his friend, Jonah, he decided to help out. He wrote a book called ‘Chocolate Bar’ and raised money for research. He explained that the phrase ‘chocolate bar’ means ‘awesome’ and coined the phrase ‘so chocolate bar.’ Two years later, book sales were over $1 million. Listen to hear about this friendship and a boy who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with this disease.
April 25, 2016
The $5, $10, and $20 bill are all due for an update, and there has been a big push to honor a woman on the face of U.S. currency. Escaped slave Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the $20 bill. Jackson will be moved to the back of the bill. The change came after the US Treasury Secretary invited the public to submit their own ideas of which female from US history should be featured. Tubman not only escaped slavery but created the Underground Railroad through connections and networks, bringing people together to reach a goal. Listen to learn more about the changes in store for U.S. currency.
April 22, 2016
In Spain, Italy and other Mediterranean countries, it was a tradition to rest after the mid-day meal. The siesta was created to escape the heat of the day. Over time this has turned into a two or three hour lunch break, where errands are done or people simply continue working. However, they are expected to still work until 8 or 9 p.m. Recently, the acting Prime Minister of Spain proposed skipping the mid-day break and ending the work day at 6pm. This news has been reported in ways that highlighted negative stereotypes of Spain. Listen and debate the pros and cons of getting rid of the afternoon nap in Spain.