Current Event December 15, 2017
Across the country there’s a debate over whether or not out-of-school suspensions are effective in dealing with a student’s disruptive behavior. A city council member in Washington D.C. believes they are not useful and that more money should be put toward in-school activities for disruptive students. This issue concerns teachers since dealing with disruptive behavior can take time out of classroom teaching and affect other students. Listen to hear more about the pros and cons of in-school suspensions and then debate: Should suspension be in school or out of school?
Current Event December 14, 2017
Whether you’re on a plane or an astronaut in space, you can see cities around the world lit up at night. The amount of lighting increases every year and has affected wildlife and how we view the night sky. This is known as light pollution, and there’s probably more than we are aware. The way we measure light pollution does not pick up on LED lighting making the light not trackable to scientists. Listen to learn where the most and least light pollution is and why it should be considered a problem.
Current Event December 7, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to remove laws that protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is the result of laws that have been in effect for 2 years that prohibit Internet service providers from speeding up or slowing down any websites you use. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers could go from being neutral gateways to gatekeepers. There are differences in opinion about whether this will be helpful for consumers or the economy. Listen to hear from the former FCC chairman about his thoughts on an open Internet.
Current Event November 22, 2017
A turkey at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland is not worried about becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead this turkey will be the guest of honor at dinner. Every year hundreds of people who eat only vegan or vegetarian food gather to eat with the turkeys, pigs, sheep, and other farm animals at Thanksgiving time. And they let the animals eat first. With help from charitable donations, this sanctuary has over 200 animals and a full-time caretaker. Listen to hear more about this unusual feast at Thanksgiving.
Current Event December 1, 2017
Doctors faced an ethical dilemma recently in a case of conjoined twins. They had separate heads and torsos, but they were connected at the abdomen and the pelvis. They shared a liver and a bladder and other organs, and had just three legs in all. One of the twins had heart and lung disease so serious that she was likely to die soon, and as a result, her sister would die in the process. Listen to hear how doctors discussed what to do in this situation and then debate: Should doctors separate conjoined twins to save one of them?
Current Event November 3, 2017
One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. The way these cafes work is that people pay to enter and get a free drink. People who don’t have time or room for a pet can come and spend time with animals, without having to own them. Most people come to pet the cats, rabbits, sheep, or owls in the cafe. But some cafes might be going too far. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous. Listen to hear about a visit to this cafe and then debate: Should animals be allowed in cafes?
Current Event November 10, 2017
Opioid addiction is killing from 35,000 to 50,000 people every year. Ten states and a number of cities and counties are suing opioid makers accusing them of lying about the addictive nature of the powerful painkiller. Many of those lawsuits involve Mike Moore. When Mike Moore was Mississippi's attorney general, he spearheaded the 50-state lawsuit against tobacco companies and won the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history. Now, he's trying to do the same thing against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Listen to hear more about this deadly and complicated crisis, and then debate: Should the drug companies be sued for creating the opioid epidemic?
Current Event November 16, 2017
The shape of measuring cups hasn’t changed for decades. But how they are shaped affects how accurate they are. That is the reason why a software engineer quit his job to redesign the measuring cup. He named his new company Euclid after a Greek Mathematician and began experimenting with shapes and formulas. Listen to this audio story to learn about the difficult journey to make-over a seemingly simple kitchen tool.
Current Event October 25, 2017
Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.
Current Event October 26, 2017
An estimated 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Some are potentially life-threatening and avoiding the allergen can be challenging and stressful. The blood tests and skin prick tests rule out specific food allergies but are not as accurate when confirming food allergies. The oral food challenge, where the food is eaten under the supervision of a doctor has become the gold-standard for determining allergies. Listen to this story about allergies as a health concern and the best way to tell if the food allergies have been outgrown.
Current Event October 31, 2017
On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.
Current Event November 1, 2017
There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.
Current Event October 10, 2017
Everyone has experienced stress, which is your body’s response to a demand made on it. A surge of hormones is released when people are stressed and that helps them deal with the danger or threat, but it also affects the nervous system and can cause health problems. When we experience a lot of stress, our bodies don’t easily return to a relaxed state. Listen to hear more about what stress does to our bodies and what we can do about the impact of stress.
Current Event October 17, 2017
Forest fires across Montana, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California have burned over 8 million acres of land this season. In Northern California, fires have killed at least 23 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. The dry conditions and extreme heat, along with high winds, have helped the fires spread quickly. Listen to this story about the destruction caused by the fire in a mobile home park in northern California.
Current Event October 23, 2017
About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.
Current Event October 12, 2017
The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards given to people who make outstanding contributions in the areas of science, culture, or academics. This year the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was given to three U.S. scientists for their discoveries about how internal body clocks govern human biology. Our daily rhythms, our sleep and awake cycles, are related to the cycles of the sun. We typically get tired in the evening and feel awake during the day. Listen to hear more about this discovery about how our internal clocks work.
Current Event October 20, 2017
Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?
Current Event October 18, 2017
The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA in August brought hundreds of people carrying shields, guns, and torches who marched while shouting racist chants. Many people shared photos of these marchers to publicly identify them as racists. But there was at least one person misidentified. A university professor was flooded with people threatening him online because he looked like someone who attended the rally. This event highlights the fact that most people are not experts at identification. Listen to this story to hear the consequences of being mistaken for someone else in the era of social media.
Current Event October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria landed directly on Puerto Rico, taking down trees and destroying homes. The hurricane seriously damaged the island’s infrastructure creating widespread power outages and damage to cell towers. People are also facing shortages of gas, food, and water. A few people have gas powered generators that are running, but most are in the dark with no way to contact friends and relatives. Listen to this story to learn more about Hurricane Maria’s effect on the people of Puerto Rico.
Current Event October 3, 2017
After Hurricane Harvey in Texas, many people evacuated their homes and are now living in shelters. Leaving home during an emergency was especially difficult for parents of small children. Even though they brought supplies when they left their homes, an essential item that runs out quickly is diapers. Toddlers need 6-8 every day, and infants need twice as many. Listen to hear more about how this issue is affecting families and how it is being solved.