All Social Studies

Current Event May 15, 2020

Debate: Should the Federal Government Manage the Pandemic Response?

Health Branches of Government

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about how federal and state governments balance power and responsibility during a crisis. While the Constitution says that states have the authority to manage a health crisis, some people would like the federal government to step in and coordinate responses between the states, as it would during wartime. Listen to learn more about the powers of the president during a crisis and then debate: Should the federal government manage the pandemic response?

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Current Event May 14, 2020

Addressing Health Care Inequities

Race Health Class

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequities in Americans’ access to health care. Some people in underserved communities, including many black Americans, lacked adequate health insurance and access to doctors even before the pandemic. The virus has hit these vulnerable groups especially hard. A new nonprofit is working to bring resources into low-income communities so people disproportionately affected by the illness can get the help they need. Listen to learn more about the healthcare inequities exposed by the pandemic and how one organization is addressing them.

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Current Event May 13, 2020

Discovering Neanderthal String

Technology Human Origins

A recent discovery indicates that our prehistoric relatives may have been smarter than previously thought. A team of paleo-anthropologists, scientists who study the origins of early humans and their relatives, found a bit of string on a prehistoric tool. This artifact offers evidence that Neanderthals had developed an important technology for survival. Listen to learn how Neanderthals made string and why the find is changing views of their intelligence.

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Current Event May 7, 2020

The Role of the WHO

Politics Health International

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations agency that oversees public health worldwide. It offers advice and support to its member countries and coordinates scientific research and public health projects across borders. President Trump recently announced that the U.S. will stop funding the WHO, severely reducing the agency’s budget. Listen to learn more about the role of the WHO in protecting global health and how a withdrawal of funding could cripple its efforts.

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Current Event April 21, 2020

The Pandemic's Impact on the Environment

Health Environment Climate Change Air Pollution

As factories shut down and fewer people drive to work, the environment is getting cleaner. Carbon emissions have dropped worldwide and people around the globe are noticing clearer air and better views of mountains. Scientists point out that an even bigger drop is needed to head off the worst effects of climate change, requiring actions such as converting to wind and solar power. Listen to hear more about how the slowdown in human activity is affecting the environment and why scientists believe animal sightings have increased.

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Current Event January 29, 2020

Teen Discovers New Planet

Astronomy

A high school senior interning at NASA has discovered a new planet. The young scientist was monitoring a telescope when he picked up clues that an unidentified object was circling. He alerted senior scientists who confirmed the object was a planet. Listen to hear a teen researcher describe the new planet and how he managed to find it on his third day on the job.

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Current Event June 26, 2019

Selfies Can Be Dangerous

Technology Culture Psychology Entertainment

Can taking a photo of yourself be dangerous? There has been a recent rise in selfie-related deaths. Many visitors to national and state parks are putting themselves in dangerous situations to get the perfect photo, and some have even lost their lives in the process. Listen to learn about why people risk their lives for selfies and what some organizations are doing to stop this troubling trend.

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Current Event April 9, 2020

Laptops for Remote Learning

Technology Education Class

With schools around the country closed due to COVID-19, teachers are using technology to help educate kids remotely. However, some students lack access to a computer, making online learning impossible. One school district in California is leveling the playing field by distributing laptops to children from low-income families. Listen to hear a principal describe the joy of seeing students in the computer line, and learn how a high school student has been spending her time at home.

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Current Event May 11, 2020

How Contact Tracing Works

Health Human Behavior

A COVID-19 contact tracer tracks people who may have been exposed to the virus, but the work requires more than just detective skills. Contact tracers respond to the questions and concerns of people who may be ill, or who fear becoming ill, and help them plan for the immediate future. Contact tracers need to be able to quickly establish a bond of trust and show care for those facing the prospect of illness and quarantine. Listen to a public health doctor explain more about the important job of contact tracer and why people often feel relieved when a tracer calls.

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Current Event September 24, 2019

Sneaker Culture on Display

Culture Trade Business Industry Entrepeneur

How much is a pair of sneakers worth? Shoe enthusiasts from around the country recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to settle that question at Sneaker Con, a marketplace for buying and selling sneakers. Thousands of “sneakerheads” lined up for a chance to get in on the action, much of which took place in the trading pit where negotiators haggled with each other to reach a deal. Listen to hear visitors and vendors explaining the appeal of sneaker culture and what drew them to the marketplace.

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Current Event August 28, 2019

Preschool Predicts Multi-generational Success

Education Psychology Class Learning Neuroscience Development

Many decades ago, children from poor families participated in an early childhood educational program known as the Perry Preschool Project aimed at improving the children’s academic achievement. While the program did not have the effect that the researchers anticipated, it did have a positive impact on their lives and on future generations. Listen to learn about the long-term effects of the Perry Preschool Project and how this study may shift the way we prepare students for success.

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Current Event November 27, 2015

Debate: Should One Test Determine Students' Academic Futures?

Education Asia Learning

The biggest test in the life of a South Korean teenager is the college entrance exam. All high school seniors take it on the same day each year, and there are many preparations to make sure students can fully concentrate on the exam. In South Korea, there is a belief that you will fail at everything unless you do well on this exam. However, if you do well, you go to a good school and get a good job. That’s a lot of pressure for students. This exam is much like the SAT or ACT in the United States. Listen to hear about high stakes testing in Korea and then debate: Should one test determine students' academic futures?

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Current Event September 2, 2016

Debate: Is Development or Clean Air More Important?

Health Climate Change Economy Air Pollution

New Delhi, India has some of the the most polluted air in the world. Levels of pollution reached hazardous levels many days of the year. For the people of New Delhi, this has meant an increase in health problems such as asthma and other sicknesses. As India’s growth continues, it consumes more energy, which creates pollution. What is the right balance between economic growth and the health threats of pollution produced by all this growth? Listen to this story and then debate: Is development or clean air more important?

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Current Event April 13, 2020

Face Masks Can Help Contain Virus Spread

Health Viruses

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says all Americans should wear face masks in public to prevent spreading COVID-19. Before now, the CDC had recommended social distancing, or keeping six feet away from others, but that can be difficult in crowded spaces like grocery stores. The new recommendation reflects recent studies indicating that many people carry the virus without showing symptoms. Listen to learn which materials make effective masks and how wearing a mask in public sends an important message.

This audio story was recorded in early April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event February 26, 2020

Remembering Africa's Favorite Elephant

Animals International Conservation

A beloved elephant in Kenya has died. Tim was one of the few remaining “tuskers,” elephants with big, fully developed tusks. His dramatic good looks and willingness to pose beautifully for wildlife photographers made Tim an international celebrity. He lived a long life and died of natural causes, a surprising fact since many African elephants are poached, or killed illegally, for their tusks when they are young. Listen to learn why local farmers feared Tim and how wildlife scientists helped them learn to appreciate him.

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Current Event March 31, 2020

Ancient Chewing Gum Holds DNA Clues

Technology Genetics Prehistory

A chunk of chewed birch resin has revealed surprisingly detailed information about a woman who lived 5,700 years ago. Scientists investigated a brownish blob discovered at an archaeological site and were able to extract and analyze a complete strand of DNA that revealed details about the diet, health, and appearance of the Stone Age woman who had chewed it. Listen to learn why ancient people chewed birch pitch and how this very old piece of gum could inspire archaeologists to look in new places for clues to the past.

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Current Event May 5, 2020

Snapping Shrimp Growing Louder

Animals Climate Change Human Impacts Oceans Ecology Marine Biology

Snapping shrimp produce surprisingly loud noises by clicking their claws. The noises they make are so pronounced that they once led to a Navy investigation. Ocean warming is causing the snapping shrimp clicks to become even louder and more frequent. The increase in ocean noise from this and other human impacts can be disruptive to marine ecosystems where sound is important to survival. Listen to hear what snapping shrimp sound like and learn why their sounds might be helpful to some species and harmful to others.

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Current Event April 2, 2020

Grocery Cashiers on the Front Lines

Health Viruses Business

Grocery store clerks have become essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, performing the crucial service of helping people feed themselves and their families. They put their own health at risk each day as hundreds of shoppers file through stores, often standing closer than the recommended safe distance of six feet away. Listen to hear a grocery store cashier describe life on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and how she feels about taking risks to help others during a health crisis.

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