Topic: Engineering


Current Event September 2, 2014

Helping Paralyzed People Walk

Life Science Technology Engineering

More than a quarter of a million people in the United States have spinal cord injuries, and two million are in wheelchairs. A new technology from ReWalk Robotics brings some paraplegics the possibility of walking, with the help of a motorized exoskeleton. This radio story gives an inside look at the technology and the impact it can have on the lives of its users. Listen to learn more about the successes of the product as well as current obstacles and future goals.

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The cells mystery

Science Middle School

Inventor of Polarizing Microscope Sheds Light on Cell's Mystery

Life Science Engineering Genetics DNA Human body Cells

Meet a legend of the cell biology world! This public radio story is a profile of the scientist who invented a way of looking at live cells that revolutionized our understanding of how molecular life works. In learning about him and his work, you learn about how cells work.

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Engineering with mushrooms

Science Middle School

Engineering Design Turns Mushrooms into Foam

Life Science Environment Engineering Physical Science

In this story we hear from the head of Ecovative, a company that uses mycelium fibers from fungi to create useful and environmentally-friendly products. The audio story discusses the advantages of using mycelium fibers in place of plastics and foams, as well as the challenges faced by the inventors in trying to create useful products. The Engineering design process is described, as well as how scientists used this process to get to where they are today. Students will get to explore the properties of Ecovative’s products, and evaluate their usefulness. Listen to this story and think about the idea of technological trade-offs.

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Using dna to catch poachers

Science Middle School

Using DNA Fingerprinting to Catch Poachers

Life Science Engineering Animals Genetics DNA

Game wardens in California are now using DNA fingerprinting analysis to help protect illegal poaching of wildlife. There are many species, from large game to shellfish, which are being illegally caught or killed for food. Since there are so few game wardens to patrol the state, they are relying on forensic evidence to help track poachers. This public radio story looks at the latest in DNA fingerprinting technology.

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Mimicking a beetle

Science Middle School

Biomimicry and a Desert Beetle

Life Science Earth and Space Science Engineering Physical Science Ecology

Copying the way a desert beetle gets water, scientists have designed a membrane that can extract water from the air. Since all air contains water, even in the desert, this could provide a very inexpensive way to supply drinking water. This audio story describes an application of the idea of “biomimicry,” or using ideas from nature to solve technological problems. Listen to learn how this idea can help solve the problem of scarce drinking water.

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Energy in the future

Science Middle School


Improving Battery Storage

Technology Engineering Physical Science Energy Electricity

How is energy produced? This public radio story explores the relationships between energy and power. It looks at how energy is stored in batteries. Scientists are still working on how to best contain energy to store for later.

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Baltimore's dirty harbor

Current Event June 27, 2014

Baltimore’s Dirty Harbor Cleaned by Innovative Water Wheel

Environment Engineering

Tourists to Baltimore’s harbor say that it is “disgusting” because so much trash is floating in it. So one resident built a Water Wheel to efficiently clear the trash out of the water. It has been lauded as a much better method of cleaning of trash from water than by hand. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about this unique recycling effort.

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Cap and trade carbon emissions policy aimed at using the free market

Current Event June 4, 2014

Cap-and-Trade Carbon Emissions Policy Aimed at Using the Free Market

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Engineering

Cap and Trade is the new carbon emissions policy aimed at regulating emissions from various factories based on a "token" system. When an entity runs out of tokens, they can turn to the free market to buy more. This story clearly explains what Cap and Trade is and why Republicans don't like it. Listen to this radio story to learn why.

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Few women in engineering

Current Event May 30, 2014

Few Women in Engineering Due to Gender Gap

Gender Education Engineering

Olin College in Massachusetts has one of the largest student populations of female engineers, which is rare because so few women go into the sciences. There is a documented gender and confidence gap for female engineers, but students think it can be closed by reaching girls at an earlier age. Listen to this radio story to find out how schools are fixing this problem.

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Recycled toilet water is the solution for one drought stricken town

Current Event May 22, 2014

Recycled Toilet Water is the Solution for One Drought-Stricken Town

Earth and Space Science Elementary Weather and Climate Engineering

A Texas town has been living in severe drought conditions for three years and decided to recycle water from toilets, sinks, and other wash to meet their water needs. Water plant officials say that the water is completely clean of bacteria, but residents would rather drink bottled water. Listen to this public radio story and discuss with your students.

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Journalists increasingly using drones to get a sneak peak at a story

Current Event May 15, 2014

Journalists Increasingly Using Drones to Get a Sneak Peek at a Story

Civics/Government Engineering

Drones are not just for military use anymore. They are being used by journalists to report stories. But this is raising some privacy concerns.

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Space thief

Current Event May 8, 2014

Space Thief

Earth and Space Science Engineering Space Systems

An American scientist was able to beat other countries to reach a comet first by “stealing” another scientist’s space craft. 31 years later, he’s on a mission to restore it to its original mission.

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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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Cellphone searches

Current Event May 1, 2014

Cellphone Searches

Civics/Government Engineering Constitution

Does law enforcement have the right to search cellphones? The Supreme Court is hearing a case about whether it is lawful to search a person’s cell phone log during arrest. The case goes to the heart of the fourth amendment. Listen to learn more about cellphone searches.

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Submarine searches for plane

Current Event April 16, 2014

Submarine Searches for Missing Plane


The search for the missing Malaysian airplane has gone underwater. The Bluefin robotic submarine is using sound waves to gather images of the ocean floor. It’s mapping out the bottom of the ocean, so that searchers can spot anything unusual.

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Current Event April 9, 2014

Chemo Makes Food Distasteful

Health Engineering

Chemotherapy has been known to make patients nauseous. The science behind the nausea shows that the medicine does affect the taste cells. But doctors have found alternative methods for patients to “taste” during chemotherapy.

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Hubble telescope celebrates 24 years in space

Current Event April 3, 2014

Hubble Telescope Celebrates 24 Years in Space

Earth and Space Science Engineering Space Systems

The Hubble Telescope has been transmitting data from space for 24 years. It has endured several changes in U.S. Presidents and it will continue to stay in space until at least 2020. What have we learned from the Hubble Telescope over the last two decades?

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3 d printing creates affordable prosthetics

Current Event March 17, 2014

3-D Printing Creates Affordable Prosthetics

Technology Elementary Engineering

Children can outgrow prosthetics quickly and it is also very expensive. 3-D printing can be used as a replacement since printed prosthetics are cheap to produce and sizing can easily be adjusted when the printer sits at home.

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Food waste as energy

Current Event March 13, 2014

Food Waste as Energy

Life Science Environment Engineering

The same methane gas emitted from humans is also produced by the same bacteria that lives in old pizza crusts, curdled milk, and other discarded food. Scientists have found ways to convert the methane gas from old food into energy. Several cities are already converting waste into energy, listen to this story to learn how New York City is trying it out.

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Tracking owls

Current Event March 12, 2014

Tracking Owls

Life Science Engineering

Snowy owls made an unusual change to their migration patterns this past winter. Why did they do it? The answer is lemmings. Scientists intend to take advantage of this atypical migration to track their movements with a GPS.

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