All Social Studies

Current Event February 8, 2015

Budget Priorities

Civics/Government Economics

President Obama’s 2015 White House budget reflects a new focus on the middle class. After cutting the deficit and coming out of the recession the President is using the budget to target uneven economic growth and support the middle class. Listen to learn why and how the president is shifting his budget focus.

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Current Event February 13, 2015

Careers in a Skilled Trade

Economics US History II Engineering Labor

American high school students are going to college at some of the highest levels in history. This increased emphasis on college readiness has meant a loss of focus on vocational education programs. As a result it’s created a void of skilled trade workers, such as mechanics, plumbers and electricians. As a generation of tradesmen retire, the U.S. education system might have to rethink how they approach teaching skilled trades. Listen to learn more about this debate.

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Current Event February 18, 2015

Diversity on Television

Race Storytelling Memoir

ABC’s new show “Fresh Off The Boat” is the first show on network television to feature an Asian American family in over 20 years. The story of a Taiwanese family who moves to Orlando Florida is inspired by the life of chef Eddie Huang. The show is starting a much needed conversation about diversity on television and the danger of having so few Asian American characters on television. Listen to learn more about the challenge of creating culturally real content in this fresh new show.

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Current Event February 1, 2015

Nuclear Power in India

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science World History II

The demand for electricity in India is rising, but India relies on coal for the majority of their power. The hope of a new deal with the United States is to help India transition from dirty coal to cleaner nuclear energy. U.S. companies will sell nuclear technology to Indian power companies so they can transition to a cleaner energy source. This might be good for the earth, but what about for security? Listen to learn about the pros and cons of this international energy deal.

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Current Event February 6, 2015

Measles Outbreak

Civics/Government Life Science Health

Measles was a common and dangerous disease in the U.S. until measles vaccination became widespread in the 1980s. But recently an outbreak of measles in the U.S. has focused new attention on the disease. Measles is the most contagious infectious disease in the world, yet people remain unvaccinated. The disease is now rare in developed nations but continues to thrive in human hosts across the globe. Listen to learn more about measles transmission and prevention.

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Current Event February 15, 2015

The End of Office Supply Stores?

Economics Technology

Two office supply giants are hoping to join together to increase their value. Staples is planning to buy Office Depot so that they can compete with the sale of inexpensive office supplies at stores like Walmart as well as online. This shift says something larger about the economy and the way we work, buy and use technology. Listen to learn how the market is changing as we digitize work

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Current Event February 17, 2015

A Rare Earth Monopoly

Economics Earth and Space Science

As the game Monopoly taught us as children, having a monopoly on something can be very profitable. In the 1990’s one man found himself selling Scandium, a rare chemical element used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and realized he was the only person with that particular job. Listen to learn how he found this job and how different types of monopolies have different financial outcomes and economic impact.

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Current Event January 15, 2015

Selma and Civil Rights

Civics/Government Race US History II

The 1965 voting rights march in Selma, Alabama exposed police brutality to the world and set the stage for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The movie ‘Selma’ tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement in Selma in a new and authentic way. Listen to learn more about traditional Hollywood depictions of civil rights and how this movie has broken that mold.

WARNING: THIS AUDIO STORY CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE

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Current Event February 5, 2015

Empathy, War and Video Games

Technology World History II Engineering

People often play video games to escape reality or fight pretend wars. Journalists are combining video games and news to flip this reality - bringing real images of war to viewers through the virtual reality of video games. From the Syrian Civil War to conflict over oil, listen to learn how virtual reality is being used to generate empathy and support deeper understanding of existing conflicts and complex systems.

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Current Event March 1, 2015

Oklahoma Has More Earthquakes Than California

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science

When Americans think of earthquakes, they often think of California. However, in the last few years, Oklahoma has become the leader in earthquakes in the continental United States. Some areas in Oklahoma experience two to three earthquakes a day! These quakes are being linked to a modern oil production technique known as hydraulic fracturing. It’s the process used to dispose of wastewater created during the extraction of oil from shale. Listen to learn how communities are responding to the quakes and the oil companies that might be creating them.

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Current Event April 27, 2014

Who’s the Real Shakespeare?

Literature Biography Drama

Plays and poetry written by William Shakespeare are studied in schools around the world. The British playwright is acknowledged as one of the great literary minds of all time - but not everyone believes that the works attributed to Shakespeare were actually written by him. No existing documents link the William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon to the famous plays. In addition, Shakespeare’s lack of education makes many question how he knew so much about language and the worlds of the rich that he writes about. Listen to learn more about these doubts over Shakespearean authorship and make up your own mind!

And check out this additional PBS resource on the authorship debate “Much Ado About Something”

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Current Event January 20, 2015

Islamist Militants in Nigeria

Civics/Government Religion World History II

Islamic extremists in the Middle East and France have dominated the news. But they’ve also attacked innocent civilians in Nigeria. A group known as Boko Haram kidnapped young school girls in April of last year. Most recently they appear to be behind brutal attacks and killings in the lawless north of Nigeria. The Nigerian government seems powerless to stop their attacks. What is Boko Haram and are they connected with other Islamic militant groups? Share this story with students to help them understand this growing threat.

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Current Event January 21, 2015

Genetically Modified Potatoes

Civics/Government Life Science Engineering

Potatoes are a staple in many households. So it’s natural researchers have worked to create a better potato with genetic modification. Geneticists have been able to change and improve potatoes to make them safer and cut down on waste, but potato buyers are refusing to buy them. Listen to learn more about how the potato has been improved, but why many food manufacturers don’t want to use them.

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Current Event February 12, 2015

Where to Put the Snow?

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.

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Current Event February 19, 2015

Trusting Computers to Make Decisions

Technology Psychology

Complex computer algorithms designed to weigh options and make choices are consistently outperforming humans. The algorithms aren’t perfect, though, and many people have a hard time trusting them. Why do we feel this way? Would you trust a computer to make an important decision in your life? Listen to learn more about how algorithms work and why humans often mistrust them.

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Current Event February 20, 2015

The Reality of Roads

Civics/Government Economics

Large American cities are known for their traffic jams - roads full of cars going nowhere. A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts that in 30 years this gridlock will be occurring in nearly all cities. As the U.S. population and U.S. manufacturing grow, more people and manufactured goods will be on the move. Our current infrastructure of roads and bridges will need a major overhaul to keep up. Listen to learn more about the problems and proposed solutions to this infrastructure puzzle.

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Current Event December 9, 2014

Building Friendly Streets

Civics/Government Engineering Industrialism

Most streets in the United States were designed for cars, not for people riding bicycles or walking. In densely populated cities this has meant that people are forced to live on streets where they don’t feel safe walking and cycling. A new movement, called “complete streets,” pushes cities to design streets to fit the needs of all the people who use it, not just people in cars. Listen to learn how this “complete streets” movement is being put into effect in cities across the country.

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Current Event December 26, 2014

Kindness: A New Mother

Education Storytelling

Michael’s mother died when he was in the eighth grade. For years, he avoided his Catholic school’s Mother/Son mass, acutely feeling the loss of his mother. But then Michael’s friend’s mom stepped in and invited him to come with her and her son. Listen to learn how this event changed their relationship, giving Michael a second mother.

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Current Event December 17, 2014

World Impact of Falling Oil Prices

Civics/Government Economics Geography

While Americans are enjoying low gas prices, oil producing nations are feeling the squeeze as the value of their biggest commodity continues to decline. Why is the price of oil dropping and who is it impacting? Listen to learn more about the international consequences of low oil prices and the interconnectedness of the international economy.

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Current Event December 5, 2014

Can Women be Good Marines?

Civics/Government Gender

In the Marines, ground combat units have always been made up of just men. A new yearlong experiment is putting female Marines to the test to see if they can make it through combat training and join male Marines in ground combat. If women can’t make it through the training some ask if the combat standards be changed. Listen to learn more about this experiment and the debate surrounding it.

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