Current Event February 14, 2019
Some people who are deaf use assistive technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. Others feel that using assistive technology impacts a deaf person’s identity. One teenager who was born deaf has had cochlear implants since she was a year old, enabling her to hear and speak. As a result, she has felt excluded by members of both the hearing and the Deaf communities. Listen to her reflections on her experience navigating both worlds as someone who is “hearing but deaf.”
Current Event February 13, 2019
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.
Current Event February 1, 2019
A recent viral video showed a young child asking for help solving a math problem from Alexa, an automated virtual assistant that searches the internet. Some worry that with such ready access to technology, kids will miss out on important learning gained through independent problem solving. Others feel that kids should be able to get assistance from technology in the same ways adults do. Listen to multiple perspectives on the issue represented in this story and then debate: Should students ask Alexa for homework help?
Current Event January 25, 2019
Many people believe that there is a connection between playing violent video games and acting violently. Research indicates that aggression and violence are complicated and not caused by a single factor. Listen to this interview with a psychology professor and researcher who has studied the impact of media violence on development and then debate: Do violent video games encourage violence?
Current Event January 16, 2019
On New Year’s Day, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) spacecraft made history by encountering the most distant object ever visited, over 4 billion miles away. The piano-sized spacecraft has already transmitted images of an icy rock known as Ultima Thule, which scientists believe to be a pristine vestige of the early days of our solar system. Listen to this interview with a planetary scientist to learn why this event is so exciting and how the mission may further our understanding of our solar system’s origins.
Current Event January 4, 2019
Technology giant Google is facing pushback from its employees who are accusing the company of collaborating with the Chinese government to develop a search engine that would violate users’ privacy and allow government censorship. Experts say that Chinese residents would be unable to search for information using keywords related to human rights. The search engine would also provide the Chinese government access to the search history of users. Listen to learn more about this issue and debate: Should Google agree to let China censor online searches?
Current Event January 2, 2019
The popular video game Fortnite has millions of players, and while the game is free, Fortnite coaches are getting paid up to $25 an hour. Some of these coaches are hired by parents who want to help their children get better at the popular shooter game. Some experts believe that Fortnite is becoming something of a social proving ground for children with a lot of pressure to win. Listen to hear more about the how and why of Fortnite coaching.
Current Event December 14, 2018
Facebook has been using artificial intelligence (AI) to try to help prevent suicide and self-harm. Facebook’s head of safety says that the AI system, which triggers alerts when Facebook chatter indicates potential risk, was used several times in its first year. While some people support this use of AI, others want the social media giant to be more transparent about its use. Many worry that this development could lead to more AI surveillance. Listen to hear more about how the AI system works and debate: Should AI be allowed to assess suicide risk on Facebook?
Current Event December 12, 2018
A new NASA probe called InSight recently landed on Mars after traveling 300 million miles from Earth. The success of this mission was a very exciting accomplishment, as it involved a complex process of slowing down the probe very quickly in order to make a smooth landing. Listen to this story to learn about this important engineering achievement and what NASA hopes the probe will do now that it has safely landed on Mars.
Current Event November 9, 2018
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in big cities where traffic is congested and public transportation can be unreliable. Some companies are offering electric scooters that can be unlocked via mobile app, ridden, and dropped off anywhere in the city. This may be convenient for some people, but it can be hazardous for others. Listen to this story to learn about the controversy caused by electric scooters and debate: Should electric scooter rentals be allowed in cities?
Current Event November 2, 2018
A popular, powerful weed killer has been banned in Arkansas, but some farmers are still using it. The herbicide intended for weeds also harms crops and wildlife. Although some farmers are planting new varieties of soybeans and cotton that are resistant to the weed killer, others are not. When farmers with the resistant crops spray the weed killer, it impacts their neighbors’ farms, often with dire consequences. Listen to hear about the battle in Arkansas among neighboring farmers, and then debate: Should farmers be allowed to use a powerful weed killer?
ELA High School
For most of the last fifty years, the mall has been one of the most popular destination for teenagers all over America. It’s a place where young people spend time with each other to connect and build relationships. In recent years, though, that trend has changed, as fewer and fewer teenagers are choosing to spend their time at malls and more shopping is done online. Listen to one young person’s attempt to understand why teenage mall culture has changed so much recently.
Current Event September 7, 2018
The future of the nuclear power industry is an issue that generates controversy. Some argue that nuclear energy is an important resource in addressing problems associated with climate change. Others are concerned that the safety of nuclear power plants still presents a serious risk. Listen to experts discussing developments in nuclear engineering and debate whether nuclear power plants should be recognized as a source of clean energy.
Current Event September 4, 2018
People who are missing an arm may use a high-tech artificial limb to help them with everyday activities such as eating or writing. These prosthetic limbs are very expensive, however, which means that it does not always make sense to use them for activities such as biking or playing baseball. To address this issue, a medical center is 3D printing custom prostheses that are much less expensive. Listen to hear how 3D printing is helping people, especially kids, fully participate in sports and other daily activities.
Current Event August 28, 2018
Although it seems to be everywhere, sand is actually running out. This might not seem like a problem, but you probably don’t realize how important sand really is. We use it to make concrete, silicone, and even artificial islands. Unfortunately, environmental factors are making it harder and harder to get, like many other natural resources today. Listen to learn the untold story of sand.
Current Event August 22, 2018
Facebook is only 14 years old, but it’s the dominant social network used by two-thirds of American adults. With news about it sharing private information or spreading fake news, some are calling on users to boycott Facebook and turn to other social networks. But which ones? Listen to this story to learn why Facebook is so dominant and how it would be very difficult for any new social network to overtake Facebook’s popularity.