Topic: Elementary

Current Event April 19, 2016

Choosing Not to Drive

Culture Elementary Transportation

According to a new study, fewer and fewer Americans are getting their driver’s licenses and owning cars. This has been a young adult trend for a long time, but now older adults are driving less, too. People across age groups cite a variety of reasons for choosing other modes of transportation, especially in cities that offer public transportation and have ridesharing services. Listen to the story to hear more about why people are choosing not to drive and opting to get around in other ways instead.

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Current Event March 31, 2016

Muslims in America

Religion Culture Elementary

Muslims now make up about 1% of the U.S. population, and their numbers are quickly growing. This story interviews a group of young adults about what it is like to grow up Muslim in America, especially after 9/11. They voice their opinions on how wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted young Muslim Americans, and they comment on the dangerous influence of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Listen to hear how young Muslim Americans are tackling challenges within their communities, while simultaneously celebrating their religion and identity.

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Current Event March 30, 2016

Setting The Whales Free

Animals Elementary entertainment

SeaWorld was known for its shows that feature killer whales doing tricks for an audience, but they’ve been phasing out these shows because of complaints from animal welfare groups. The critics have also wanted SeaWorld to end captive breeding of orcas, or killer whales. Recently the SeaWorld CEO announced it will end captive breeding of killer whales. It will expand other attractions, and increase rescue operations of marine mammals. Since orcas have a long life, they will introduce new, natural encounters with their orcas. Listen to hear more about the changes at SeaWorld.

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Current Event February 26, 2016

Debate: Racial Bias at the Oscars

Race Elementary entertainment

The annual Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest and most glamorous event, will air this Sunday night. Amid the excitement, there is some controversy. For the second year in a row, there are no nominees of color in the acting categories. The lack of diversity in nominees could reflect a larger pattern in the industry since many of Hollywood’s most influential people, both in front of and behind the camera, are white. Listen to this story and debate with your students: Should there be more diversity at the Oscars?

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Current Event January 13, 2016

Reducing Food Waste

Health Elementary

Americans throw away about a third of the food they buy, on average. Food ends up in landfills and creates methane, which contributes to climate change. A new national goal has been set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. There are many reasons people throw away food. Listen to hear about some solutions to this issue.

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Current Event January 5, 2016

Dinosaur Footprints

Life Science Animals Elementary

On the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland, dinosaur footprints were recently found. They look like potholes the size of trash can lids and were made by dinosaurs about 170 million years ago. The site is along the northern coast, near what used to be a lagoon. Dinosaurs are normally found on land and not so near the water. Listen to this story to learn more about this discovery and how it changes our understanding of dinosaurs.

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Current Event December 31, 2015

Walking in Space

Earth and Space Science Elementary Atmosphere

There are only a small number of people who have been in space. A smaller number of people have been outside a space station, tied only with a tether, floating in space. There is a huge amount of training and planning that goes into a space mission, but sometimes things still go wrong. Now astronauts have fewer opportunities for space travel since NASA ended its shuttle program in 2011. Listen to these astronauts as they describe their experiences floating over the Earth.

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Current Event December 30, 2015

Whale Sounds

Life Science Animals Elementary Sound

Humpback whales sing and continually change their songs. In the 1960’s Navy engineers used underwater microphones to record sounds in the ocean to locate enemy ships. They happened to also record whale sounds. Scientists studied these sounds and discovered that only male humpback whales sing and they gradually modify their songs. The humpback’s songs have patterns and rhythms and are not just random sounds. Listen to hear more about how sound is used to learn about the life of whales.

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Current Event December 29, 2015

Sound Reveals the Invisible

Elementary Sound

Most of the world is interpreted by what we see, but there is a culture of listening that is helping biologists listen and understand how animals communicate. Knowing what to listen for and training themselves to hear patterns are ways scientists use sounds to make discoveries. Listen to hear more about how sound helps reveal the invisible in the world.

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Current Event December 28, 2015

Ocean Noise Pollution

Life Science Animals Elementary Oceans Sound

The field of bioacoustics, studying the sound of animals, extends far below the surface of oceans. Whale vocalizations can be used as data to track migration and populations. Researchers have found ways to identify which whales are making which sounds. But in oceans, human-made sounds are often louder than other noises, making it hard for marine animals to hear the sounds in their own world. Listen to this story about what can be learned by tracking whale sounds, and how new guidelines are helping whales communicate with each other.

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Current Event December 27, 2015

Sensory-Friendly Theater

Psychology Elementary Arts

Theater is meant to be a sensory experience, but for some autistic children, the sounds and lights are overwhelming. Children with sensitivities to light, sound, and touch can’t filter all of this input and can react in different ways. For families with autistic children, going to the theater can be a stressful experience. Trinity Repertory Company, in Rhode Island, has created a innovative theater experience for these families. The house lights are kept on throughout the performance, there are places for children to get out of their seats to move around and sounds are toned down. Trinity Rep also makes a video that prepares children for the entire experience, from the curtain going up through clapping at the end of the performance. Listen to hear more about how children and families respond to this sensory-friendly performance.

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Current Event December 24, 2015

Sounding The Alarm

Animals Elementary Sound

Ornithologists listening to various bird calls were surprised to discover that different animal species shared the same warning call. For instance, squirrels closely mimic a bird’s warning call. These scientists record sounds in the wilderness all over the world to learn about animal communication. In this story they share different ways they provoke the birds into making bird calls so that they can be studied. Listen to hear about the discoveries of scientists who listen closely.

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Current Event December 23, 2015

Sound You Can't Hear

Animals Elementary Sound

Elephants roar and stomp and make loud sounds. They also make other sounds too low for humans to hear. Researchers are studying the secret signals of elephants by living among them in Africa. The audible calls are just a fraction of the elephants’ conversation. They have a longer ear canal, bigger eardrums and can hear much lower frequencies than people can. Researchers have matched the rumbling sounds with specific behaviors, such as looking for a baby elephant or greeting each other. Listen to hear more about the hidden language of elephants.

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Current Event December 22, 2015

Insects Communicate Through Sound

Elementary Sound

Some animals and insects communicate at frequencies that humans can’t hear. Elephants and whales, for example, can find their families and mates using different frequencies. Crickets create vibrations that identify their species to other crickets, which helps to increase the cricket population. Sounds that people don’t pay attention to or sounds that people can’t even hear are all around us. Listen to this story to hear more about these sounds and how they have evolved to help animals survive.

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Current Event December 21, 2015

How Sound Works

Elementary Sound

Our brains are finely tuned to use sound to interpret what goes on around us. We are surrounded by sounds telling us something. People can hear 20-100 times faster than they see, and animals use sound to function as well as talk to each other. Hearing sounds is critical to safety and survival. Listen to hear about the many places, including space, where sounds can be found, and how listening is a tool for understanding the world.

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Current Event October 27, 2015

Pandas and Politics

Civics/Government Animals Elementary Communism

Pandas from China have served as fluffy diplomats between the Communist China and the Democratic United States. In 1972, the Smithsonian National Zoo first received their first pair of pandas from China as “gesture of goodwill” following President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. Panda diplomacy continues today as a newborn panda's name was unveiled at the National Zoo. Listen to the story and learn more about the newest link between the world’s two largest economies.

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Current Event October 23, 2015

Debate: Are Kids Too Stressed Today?

Life Science Psychology Elementary biology

How much stress we experience growing up can affect our health later in life. This was discovered during a study which assessed the emotional health, diet and habits of hundreds of people from childhood through adulthood. They analyzed the relationship between stress and disease and found people who had persistent stress were at the highest risk for disease. But surprisingly, people who had periods of high stress when they were between the ages of 7 and 16 showed a high risk for chronic illness, even if they were not stressed as adults. Listen to this story and start a debate in your class about whether stress is helpful or harmful to students.

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Current Event October 14, 2015

An Immigrant's Journey

Immigration Elementary

Many immigrants came to the United States years ago when immigration laws made it easier for people from non-European countries to arrive. This story looks back on the journey of one family who left Bolivia when conditions became intolerable and settled in America. The father spent most of his free time in the library, learning English and reading repair manuals. By teaching himself new skills he was able to take on small jobs, move his family out of poverty and get a start on the American dream by buying a house. Listen to hear more about one legal immigrant’s journey.

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Current Event August 28, 2015

Endangered Pangolins

Life Science Animals Elementary

The animal that tops the illegal wildlife trade is surprising. It’s not an elephant or tiger, but an exotic anteater called a Pangolin. This animal is a mammal with scales, has a tongue the size of its body, and an unfortunate self-defense mechanism. They are on their way to becoming extinct because their scales are used in Asian medicine and their meat is considered delicious in some countries. Some organizations are petitioning to list the Pangolin as endangered in the U.S. Listen to hear more about the efforts to save the Pangolin.

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Current Event July 26, 2015

Marine Mammal Friends

Life Science Environment Elementary

Summer camp is usually a time to swim, play and make new friends. But at a special summer camp in California, kids get to take care of sick and stranded baby seals. Kids learn to rescue and care for the injured baby elephant seals and sea lion pups. They cut up fish to make them nutritious smoothies. The last day of this camp is similar to other camps since the kids are both happy and sad as they say goodbye to their new friends. But at this camp, the healthy new friends are released into the Ocean. Listen to learn more about how this camp helps kids learn about seals.

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