All Science

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Current Event August 14, 2017

Health Care’s Complicated History

Health KERA

Health care reform has become a major political issue in the United States. There are high costs for patients as well as the consequences of having millions of uninsured Americans. With many recent legislative votes on health care, the national debate is becoming intense. At the center of this debate is Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care coverage for about 50 million Americans. Listen to an expert breakdown some of the details that make health care such a complicated subject.

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Current Event April 23, 2018

Facebook CEO Answers Questions from Congress

Technology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress about how the social media giant protects the privacy of its users. He was questioned about how the political data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data from millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg was forced to acknowledge that Facebook extensively tracks users when they are using the site and when they are not even logged in. Several members of Congress asked whether Zuckerberg thought Facebook should be regulated. Listen to hear more about Zuckerberg’s statements in his testimony before Congress.

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Drone.square

Current Event January 25, 2015

Drones in Texas

Civics/Government Technology Engineering

Since 9/11 the military has been developing and using unmanned airplanes, known as drones, to fight the war on terror. Increased intelligence and electronic sophistication has transformed drones into powerful tools for surveillance and war. Drones can be small with cameras, or the size of fighter jets. The first all-drone airport is opening in Texas, marking a new era in drone development. Listen to learn more about this trend and its potential applications.

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Current Event September 2, 2016

Debate: Which is More Important: Development or Preventing Pollution?

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. This story illustrates the balance between economic growth and the health threats of pollution produced by all this growth.

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Current Event March 3, 2017

Debate: What is the Best Way to Increase Diversity on TV?

Race entertainment

The reality television series the Bachelor/Bachelorette has been frequently criticized for the lack of diversity in its contestants and lead characters. Recently, the show has announced its first black Bachelorette. By including more people of color in the pool of contestants, the show’s executives hope to foster more diversity both in who wins the competition, and who is selected to be the lead in future seasons. Both scripted TV shows and reality TV shows have been criticized for not being diverse. Listen to this story and then debate the best way to increase diversity on TV.

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Current Event February 2, 2018

Debate: Should Schools Hold Student Cell Phones?

Technology Culture

Cell phones have become a significant distraction for students and teachers in classrooms across the country. Administrators are trying a variety of ways to limit the use of cell phones. Some teachers take it upon themselves to take away students’ phones in their classrooms. Other schools have invested in soft pouches that lock up the phones during the school day. Listen to learn how students are reacting to these changes and then debate: Should schools hold student cell phones?

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Choosing vaccinations

Current Event May 2, 2014

Choosing Vaccinations

Health Engineering

A rising number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to a variety of reasons. Doctors are alarmed at this rise of unvaccinated children, which may be connected to a series of measles cases.

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Plastic beach

Current Event February 13, 2019

Ocean Plastic Cleanup Hits a Snag

Technology Environment Engineering Oceans

An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.

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Science Middle School

How Snow is Made

Climate Change Weather and Climate

The phrase “no two snowflakes are alike” is actually scientifically accurate. Snow forms high in the atmosphere, and despite its uniform appearance, each snowflake is different based upon where and how it was formed. Although snowflakes are non-living, they grow and change from the time they are formed to the time they reach the ground. Listen to learn how snow is formed and why it exists in some places but not others.

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Crispr

Current Event December 7, 2018

Debate: Should Humans Be Genetically Modified?

Ethics Genetics Biotechnology Biology

A Chinese scientist claims to have created genetically edited human babies, igniting a major ethical controversy. The scientist says he used a new genetic engineering technique to modify genes in human embryos to resist HIV infection and then created twin girls from those embryos. His claim has yet to be verified. The scientific community has responded with strong ethical concerns about the risks of this type of human experimentation. Listen to this story to learn more and then debate: Should humans be genetically modified?

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Science High School

Editing Human Genes

Life Science DNA Cells Biotechnology

We live in an age when genetic engineering has the capacity to affect the course of human evolution. Scientists can edit human DNA, which could have profound benefits for society, but this ability also comes with dangers. Editing human DNA can allow for the treatment and prevention of disease, but this modified DNA can also become a permanent part of human genes, passed down from generation to generation. The scientific community met to discuss these issues. While experts agreed that creating a baby with edited DNA is unsafe, the support continued research to see what is possible. Listen to hear more about this issue and what scientists have concluded.

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Ebola a complex problem

Science High School

Ebola: A Complex Virus to Cure

Life Science Health Viruses

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has inspired widespread fear throughout the U.S. and in many other countries. In reality, the threat of Ebola is actually quite small with only 1,700 deaths since 1976. The rarity of the Ebola virus has given major pharmaceutical companies very little incentive to develop a treatment for the virus given that the market for such a drug would be almost nonexistent. However, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, a small pharmaceutical company based in Frederick, MD, has been given government help to develop a cure for the virus. Listen to learn more about the complexity of the Ebola virus and what is being done to develop a cure.

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Losing linnaeus

Science Middle School

DNA Changes the Linnaean Classification System

Life Science Ecosystems Ecology Plants

The system we use to organize life is called the Linnean system, named after Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. The name of every living thing has a place because of Linnaeus. But now new DNA technology is changing the way to think about the classification system. Scientists are debating whether it is possible to change a system that has been strictly followed for the past few hundred years. Listen to learn how scientists discovered this change in the system.

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Using grass for electricity

Science Middle School

Burning Grass for Alternative Electricity

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Physical Science

Energy experts are thinking about ways to replace coal that’s burned in American power stations. One alternative is to burn plants because they can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This results in biomass power. Listen to learn about a movement in the Midwest that uses millions of acres of grass for biomass power.

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Artificial photosynthesis

Science High School

Artificial Photosynthesis Produces Fuel

Life Science Engineering Biotechnology Plants

While humans need food and water to survive, plants are able to get their energy from the sun through a process known as photosynthesis. Engineers are now trying to replicate this process of converting sunshine to power through artificial photosynthesis. They are trying to create an artificial leaf. Listen to learn how these problem solvers are approaching the challenge step by step.

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A delicious solution to our energy problem

Science Middle School

A Delicious Solution to Our Energy Problems

Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Electricity chemistry

A new source of energy is being developed by using Michigan's industrial food waste. Using existing technology for converting manure into electricity, these anaerobic digesters are doing their work on pudding packs and canned peaches, among other delicacies. Listen to learn how they are turning waste into electricity.

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Fracking and earthquakes

Science Middle School

Research Shows Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Energy Geology Forces and Newton's Laws

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that when the drillers get rid of wastewater from fracking, it goes into the ground and causes earthquakes. This is happening in places such as Arkansas, and now residents are speaking up to try to put a stop to it. Listen to learn how residents figured out where the earthquakes were coming from and how they are taking the issue to court.

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Rare earth elements

Science Middle School

China Owns Most Rare Earth Elements Used in Electronics

Technology Environment Physical Science Energy Geology

Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.

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Current Event March 9, 2017

The Math Heroes of Hidden Figures

Earth and Space Science Gender Mathematics

During the space race between the United States and Russia, many of the NASA mathematicians who made space flight possible were women. Moreover, many of these important scientists were black women, which is significant, because segregation was still in full effect. Although white male engineers and astronauts have been the most highlighted in history, people are now celebrating the essential contributions of these female, African-American scientists, including the movie “Hidden Figures.” Listen to learn more about the black female scientists like Katherine Johnson and their important contributions to space travel.

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2.horse

Current Event August 27, 2015

Horse Versus Human

Life Science Animals

Are animals faster than humans? Common sense says horses are faster, but scientists say humans have the edge in marathon distances. Ancient man used to chase his dinner; thus, people have adapted to run long distances. This adaptation is put to the test every year in England when humans race horses on a 22-mile course through Wales. It’s an annual competition that started in 1980. Listen to find out who won the race this year and who has evolved to be faster.

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