All Social Studies

Current Event October 26, 2020

How Poll Watching Works

Politics Democracy

The practice of observing elections, when people from both major parties watch the voting process to ensure it runs smoothly, has a long tradition in the U.S. People who watch polls must follow rules established by state and local governments. Historically, however, some election observers have been accused of acting aggressively to intimidate groups of voters and keep them away from the polls. Listen to hear more about guidelines for observers at the polls, and learn what one voting expert believes election officials can do to safeguard the 2020 election.

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Current Event May 27, 2020

Dogs Trained to Detect Virus

Health Animals

Dogs have powerful noses, and their sniffing skills might be able to help with keeping the pandemic under control. Many diseases have particular smells. Scientists are working to identify the scent of COVID-19 and training dogs to find it in humans. The trained animals would be able to quickly screen hundreds of people in places such as airports and train stations. Listen to hear how trainers teach dogs to find certain scents and when the first group of sniffers could be ready to work.

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Current Event October 25, 2020

Weird News: Incubating Ducks at Home

Animals

Listen to hear about a woman hatching ducks from eggs she bought at the supermarket.

Vocabulary: furlough, emerge, incubate

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Current Event October 23, 2020

Debate: Should Standardized Tests Resume?

Education

When the pandemic hit and schools closed in spring 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Education waived requirements for federal standardized testing in reading, math, and science. Recently, however, she said K-12 testing must resume. Those who support the move say the tests are a crucial tool in identifying students who have lost academic ground during the pandemic and can help to address the achievement gap. Opponents argue that the money would be better spent on other priorities, including collecting data locally much earlier on what kind of support students need. Listen to learn more about the controversy over testing and then debate: Should standardized tests resume?

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Current Event January 22, 2020

New Cosmic Crisp Apple

Genetics Plants Industry

A crunchy new apple has hit supermarket shelves. A cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise varieties, the new Cosmic Crisp apple is the result of years of genetic cross-breeding by plant scientists at Washington State University. Listen to hear the lead scientist describe the mouth-watering qualities of the new variety, and why she hopes it is a hit with consumers.

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Current Event August 26, 2020

The Return of Drive-In Movies

Culture Entertainment

Drive-in movie theaters are having a resurgence during the pandemic. The first drive-in was created by Richard Hollingshead in the 1930s and quickly gained popularity as an easy, inexpensive place to go for a night out. At one point, the country had over 4,000 outdoor movie theaters, although as new forms of entertainment arose, drive-ins declined. Listen to learn how the inventor’s mother helped launch the idea and what people found most appealing about watching movies from their cars.

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Current Event September 2, 2020

Zoos Reopening

Animals

Zoos animals and their keepers are welcoming visitors after months of closures due to the pandemic. Some of the animals were content to interact with their own social groups while the zoo was closed. Others seemed bored without the usual flow of visitors, and keepers had to find creative ways to keep them occupied. Listen to hear an animal keeper explain which animals missed people the most and how her team used Facebook to keep animals entertained.

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Current Event October 22, 2020

Teaching Black History as American History

Race Education U.S. History

High school students in Colorado took a trip that changed the way history is taught at their school. After the group traveled with their principal to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., they realized that aspects of Black history were left out of their school’s American history curriculum that they thought should be included. Listen to hear the principal explain how the students pushed for change and what effect she hopes the new curriculum will have on teaching and learning.

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Current Event May 29, 2019

Plastic in the Air

Health Animals Environment Geography Human Impacts Ecosystems Plants Conservation Air Pollution Earth Systems

The air thousands of feet high in France’s Pyrenees Mountains should be some of the cleanest on Earth. However, recent research revealed that the air at the top of the mountains actually contains microscopic plastic. Listen to learn more about the experiment that revealed this surprising fact, why it matters, and what researchers plan to investigate next.

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Current Event November 1, 2019

Debate: Should a River Be Granted Personhood?

Culture Climate Change Law Conservation

A Native American tribe in California took an unusual step to protect a river central to its way of life – it gave the river the same rights as a person. The move allows the tribe to take legal action against anyone who harms the river. Listen to hear a tribal member explain the special role of the river in tribal life and why the group decided to take such bold action.

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Current Event April 22, 2020

Student Volunteers Help Elderly Neighbors

Health Community

An army of young volunteers is building bridges between generations while delivering food supplies. Invisible Hands is a network of college students and other young people bringing groceries to elderly New York City residents isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. The project has built deep bonds between people of different generations, even though they have not met. Listen to hear the organization’s founder describe the roots of the project and why a woman who received a delivery was crying with joy.

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 April 1, 2020

How New Emojis Are Created

Technology Science Visual Art

The group in charge of emojis is issuing some new designs, and scientists are buzzing. Researchers studying mushrooms, rocks, microbes, and insects enjoy using emojis to represent their work. They are happy to have appropriate images to share on social media, even if the emojis do not represent every scientific detail correctly. Listen to learn which group of animals have the most emojis, which groups are not well represented, and what happened when marine scientists complained about the accuracy of the squid emoji.

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Current Event March 4, 2020

When Noises Drive You Crazy

Health Sound Human Body Human Behavior

For years, doctors struggled to diagnose an unusual set of symptoms: feeling angry or upset when hearing certain noises. Now scientists have identified the condition, misophonia, and doctors and patients are finally learning more about it. People with misophonia are highly sensitive to a range of everyday sounds like chewing and sniffling. They can experience extreme stress, making events like sharing a family meal challenging. Listen to hear a misophonic person describe what it feels like to hear chewing noises and why those suffering from misophonia and their families are relieved that the condition has been named.

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Current Event September 26, 2014

Arctic Explorer from Franklin Expedition Found

Technology Climate Change World History I

In 1845 two ships led by Sir John Franklin left England searching for a northern route across the globe, known as the Northwest Passage. They never returned. 169 years later, a helicopter pilot found a clue that led the Canadian government to one of the missing ships. From sonar imaging to video cameras on submarines, archaeologists have confirmed that this is one of the abandoned ships from the famous expedition. Listen to hear about the haunting story this discovery has unearthed.

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Current Event October 21, 2020

Iroquois Nationals Prepare for Top Lacrosse Competition

Culture Sports

One of the best lacrosse teams in the world was left off the invitation list to the 2022 World Games. The Iroquois Nationals are considered the third best team worldwide. The Native American members of the team come from a generations-long tradition of playing lacrosse, a sport that originated with the Haudenosaunee people. When another team heard how the Nationals were snubbed, they took decisive action. Listen to learn why the Iroquois Nationals were excluded from play and how others responded to what they saw as an injustice.

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