All ELA

Current Event March 18, 2021

High School Sports Resume

Health Education Sports SEL

After being canceled during the pandemic, many high school sports are starting up again. This audio story focuses on a high school girls’ tennis team in California where athletes are both nervous and excited to resume play. Listen to learn how one school community is handling the reopening of school sports, and hear high school athletes describe what this moment means to them.

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Current Event April 14, 2021

Honoring Vancouver's Oldest Apple Tree

Community Plants Industry

The residents of Vancouver, Washington have said goodbye to a beloved old friend: a 194-year-old apple tree. The state of Washington produces more apples than anywhere else in the country, and the old apple tree was widely considered the “mother” of the apple industry there. Residents protected her when city planners threatened to chop her down and celebrated her life at an annual festival. Listen to learn who planted the apple seeds that grew into the famous tree and why she has so many descendants.

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ELA

The Life of Langston Hughes

Race Poetry

Langston Hughes, an African American writer who lived and wrote during the first half of the 20th century, remains one of the most celebrated writers in American history. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. In this story, a woman is pleasantly surprised to find one of his poems among her granddaughter’s school papers. She shares with her granddaughter the many things she admired about Hughes, and the many reasons he was such an influential poet and person during his time. She speaks about Hughes’s early life, his travels, and his lyrical poetry. Listen to learn more about this famous poet, who continues to inspire younger generations today.

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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 July 31, 2019

Celebrating Women's Soccer

Culture Gender Sports Women's Rights

When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the 2019 World Cup, they paraded down the streets of New York City while people tossed confetti to celebrate. This type of ticker-tape parade has been happening for over a hundred years, but this particular event was especially significant for women in America. Listen to find out what made this parade both traditional and unique.

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Current Event January 20, 2021

College Athlete Makes History for Women

Gender Sports

As a successful college soccer player, Sarah Fuller knows how to kick. So when her university’s football team needed a kicker for an upcoming game, she stepped in, making history as the first female athlete to play in a Big Five NCAA football game. Before that, Fuller had spent years struggling to overcome injuries. Listen to hear a groundbreaking athlete explain how it felt to join the football team, why she was emotional on game day, and who most inspires her.

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Current Event April 13, 2021

History of the Suez Canal

World War II International World War I Trade Middle East Conflict

The Suez Canal is a 120-mile waterway dug in the Isthmus of Suez, between Africa and Asia, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. When it was built in 1869, the Suez Canal cut the travel time for ships bringing goods around the world, and global trade increased. Over the years the canal has been the site of conflict between powerful nations, and occasional disaster. Recently, a giant container ship got stuck in the canal and jammed water traffic for six days. Listen to learn more about the history and importance of the Suez Canal and why experts say accidents there are likely to recur.

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ELA

Difficult to Control: Obstreperous

Protest SEL Reform U.S. Constitution Informational Text Women’s Rights

While the words uncooperative, unruly, and unrestrained typically carry negative connotations, there are times when these qualities can be helpful. For example, most activists will agree that being obstreperous, or difficult to control, is necessary to bring about social change. Many rights and freedoms people have today were not won by quietly accepting and following the rules. Listen to learn more about the vocabulary word obstreperous and how being unruly helped women win the right to vote.

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Current Event February 3, 2021

Seaweed Helps Gassy Cows

Animals Climate Change

The world's billion-and-a-half cows produce huge amounts of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Methane is made in cows’ guts as they digest their food. When they burp and fart, they spew the gas into the air. Now, scientists have found a simple, unexpected way to reduce methane production in cows. Listen to learn about a surprising solution to the problem of gassy cows and how it may help address climate change.

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ELA

Maya Angelou's Life and Legacy

Gender Poetry Biography Civil RIghts

Maya Angelou was an author, poet and icon. She grew up during segregation and used her work to empower and give voice to the African American community. Her memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" changed the literary world and opened doors for African American authors and women.

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Current Event December 9, 2020

Free Food Refrigerators Feed Communities

Health Nutrition Community

The number of Americans who do not have enough food has increased dramatically during the pandemic. To address this problem of food insecurity, groups across the country are putting refrigerators filled with free food in public places and inviting people to take what they need. The “freedges” are feeding thousands of people, many of whom had never visited a food bank. Listen to hear more about a grassroots effort to feed hungry Americans, and learn why one activist worries about the sustainability of the movement.

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Current Event July 17, 2019

Changing Consumers' Minds About "Ugly" Produce

Environment Climate Change Human Impacts KERA Agriculture Nutrition Business Plants Conservation Industry

Would you eat a scarred, lumpy carrot or an apple that is oddly shaped? Grocery stores do not typically sell these types of “ugly” produce, but some new companies aim to reduce food waste by selling fruits and vegetables that are rejected by stores. Listen to learn about the benefits of these efforts and find out what else you can do to reduce food waste.

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Current Event April 11, 2021

Weird News: Auction Bidder Breaks Record for Video Game Price

Entertainment Money Media

Listen to hear about a video game that sold for a very high price.

Vocabulary: anonymous, auction, remarkable

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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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ELA

The Life of Sylvia Plath

Fiction American Literature

Though writer Sylvia Plath died more than a half century ago, her life, legacy and work still captivate audiences today. Much of Plath’s work, including her renowned novel “The Bell Jar”, explore issues related to death and mental illness. Plath famously committed suicide, prompting many readers to wonder about her motivations and state of mind. Her passionate and tragic relationship with her husband, Ted Hughes, has also attracted attention. Today, contemporary artists inspired by Plath’s powerful work have reimagined parts of her life through books and movies. Listen to learn more about Sylvia Plath, who died too young but left behind a lasting legacy.

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Current Event November 12, 2019

The Meaning of "Quid Pro Quo"

Politics Ethics Language

“Quid pro quo” refers to someone doing a favor for another person and expecting something in return. Exchanging favors is common, but off-limits to politicians who could abuse their power. Congress is investigating whether President Trump sought a quid pro quo from the president of Ukraine by asking him to investigate a political rival in exchange for releasing U.S. aid funds. Listen to learn how the meaning of the Latin term quid pro quo has evolved over centuries and why asking for a favor can be complicated, even embarrassing.

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ELA

"A Wrinkle in Time" Continues its Journey

Gender Fiction Children's Literature Science Fiction Young Adult Literature

"A Wrinkle in Time," a famous novel by Madeleine L’Engle, is the story of teenager Meg Murry. Meg is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother and friend as they try to rescue her father. When it was originally published in 1963, no publisher knew how to promote it. What is it about “A Wrinkle in Time,” and why is it so controversial 50 years after its publication?

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ELA

The Unsuccessful Quest For A Universal Language

Language Storytelling

In the 17th century, people were determined to overcome communications barriers between the people of the world by creating a universal language. Sir Isaac Newton is known for discovering gravity, but he was also the creator of the “Newtonian” language. The language Newton created was never successful. The language of Esperanto was created in the 1960 but also never caught on. Listen to learn more about invented languages and why they never became universal.

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Current Event April 9, 2021

Debate: Should kids go to school all year round?

Education

Many students have struggled academically and socially during the pandemic. Some education leaders are suggesting that a longer school year could help fill the learning gaps. It would allow at-risk students to get the academic support they need and give all students a chance to reconnect socially after a year of relative isolation. Summer jobs, camp, and family time would suffer, though, and some are unwilling to give up these valuable activities. Listen to a school superintendent discuss his plans for extending the school year and then debate: Should kids go to school all year round?

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Current Event April 8, 2021

The Many Meanings of "Hispanic"

Immigration Culture Ethnicity

The term “Hispanic” refers to a broad array of Spanish-speaking people from various countries, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Many Americans associate the word primarily with Mexicans or Spaniards, though, and do not fully appreciate the diversity it represents. A narrow understanding of “Hispanic” can lead to stereotyping and historical narratives that exclude certain groups. Listen to Hispanic Americans discuss the assumptions people make about them based on the Hispanic label and why it’s important for people to appreciate the complexities of their identities.

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