Topic: Earth and Space Science

Sun.square

Current Event February 24, 2015

How the Sun Works

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Physical Science

The sun is a star that sits at the center of our Solar System. It provides heat and a gravitational pull for all of the planets that orbit it. Scientists have long believed they knew what the sun was made up of and how it worked. When new evidence upset the balance between theory and observation, a solar physicist set out to reproduce the way the sun functions in a laboratory. Listen to hear more about how the sun works.

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Interstellar travel

Science Middle School

Interstellar Travel on Voyager I

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

It is difficult to conceptualize the magnitude of our solar system but the journey of the Voyager spacecrafts can help. In September 1977 NASA launched the Voyager spacecrafts to gain information about the far off giant planets in our solar system. The spacecrafts and the project endured after studying Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and continued to travel away from earth and through our solar system. Thirty-five years after Voyager 1 left Earth, and over 11 billion miles away, it became the first man-made object to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. Listen to learn what researchers have been researching from the edge of our solar system.

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Tsunami science

Science Middle School

Tsunami Warnings Get More Accurate

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate Physical Science Forces and Newton's Laws

Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.

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Engineering a cooler climate

Science High School

Geoengineering Combats Global Warming

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Engineering Human Impacts

Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.

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New planet

Science Middle School

New Planet on the Edge of Our Solar System

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

In 2014, astronomers discovered a new dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. This discovery has changed scientists’ understanding of what exists in the solar system beyond the more well known dwarf planet, Pluto. The new planet is a pink ball of ice, and scientists believe there could be an unseen and undiscovered planet larger than Earth in the far reaches of our solar system.

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Volcanoes and geothermal energy

Science Middle School

Volcanoes are a Source of Renewable Geothermal Energy

Economics Earth and Space Science Physical Science Energy

As nations look for clean energy alternatives many are turning to wind and solar, but Indonesia is turning to its volcanoes. Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes. These volcanoes generate geothermal heat that is releases through vents and hot springs throughout the country. Power companies are learning to harness and redirect this heated steam into power plants in order to generate electricity. Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is huge, but start up costs and oil subsidies might prevent this burgeoning clean energy from taking off.

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Scandium.square

Current Event February 17, 2015

A Rare Earth Monopoly

Economics Earth and Space Science

As the game Monopoly taught us as children, having a monopoly on something can be very profitable. In the 1990’s one man found himself selling Scandium, a rare chemical element used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and realized he was the only person with that particular job. Listen to learn how he found this job and how different types of monopolies have different financial outcomes and economic impact.

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Grand canyons age

Science Middle School

How Old is the Grand Canyon?

Earth and Space Science Geology

The Grand Canyon has amazed visitors and scientist alike since it was discovered. The debate over what created this geologic wonder has been reignited in recent years. Is the Grand Canyon 6 million years old or 70 million? Listen to learn more about this debate between two geologists who have very opposing viewpoints.

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Extreme rains and global warming

Science High School

Extreme Rains and Global Warming

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

Scientists are using computer computations to link cases of extreme weather to global warming. Scientists set out to link major flooding in England and Wales in the fall of 2000 to climate change. This task was undertaken by scientists and citizens alike - running thousands of computer simulations and comparing the result in a world with climate change and one without it. Listen to learn what these simulations found.

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Solar energy

Science High School

Supply and Demand of Solar Energy

Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Energy

To lower dependency on fossil fuels, some Americans have installed solar panels on their homes to produce their own clean energy. This decision involves a cost-benefit analysis of cost value and environmental impact. In some regions this cost-benefit ratio has been upset by fracking, and the cheap natural gas that it produces. How does supply and demand impact the cost of energy? How does the cost of energy impact people seeking alternatives such as solar energy? Listen to learn how one family has dealt is dealing with this shifting energy landscape.

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Snowbank.square

Current Event February 12, 2015

Where to Put the Snow?

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.

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Kids.environ.square

Current Event February 3, 2015

Environmental Kids

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.

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Humans impact on climate change

Science High School

Human Impact on Climate Change

Life Science Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Animals Physical Science Human Impacts

A United Nations report in 2014 shows that human activities are changing the planet. The scientists are more confident in their conclusions that humans are causing global warming. There are rising sea levels, higher temperatures and impacts on wildlife. This conversation with a public radio reporter looks at the long term trend in global temperatures and what humans can do to reverse the trend.

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India.nuclear.square

Current Event February 1, 2015

Nuclear Power in India

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science World History II

The demand for electricity in India is rising, but India relies on coal for the majority of their power. The hope of a new deal with the United States is to help India transition from dirty coal to cleaner nuclear energy. U.S. companies will sell nuclear technology to Indian power companies so they can transition to a cleaner energy source. This might be good for the earth, but what about for security? Listen to learn about the pros and cons of this international energy deal.

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Curiosity mars.square

Current Event January 6, 2015

Life on Mars

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Atmosphere

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found unexpected bursts of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Scientists don’t know where the methane is coming from but some see these bursts as evidence that there are or once were living microbes on the red planet. Listen to learn more about this important gas and the implications of its discovery on Mars.

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Nasa's orion.square

Current Event December 11, 2014

NASA’s Plans for Deep Space

Earth and Space Science Technology Engineering Space Systems

Since the end of the space shuttle program and the beginning of independently funded space exploration, NASA hasn’t been launching many new spacecrafts. This is changing with a recent test flight for NASA’s new spacecraft Orion, which is designed to carry astronauts into deep space. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about Orion’s design and goals.

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Cometsurface.square

Current Event November 16, 2014

Comet Landing

Earth and Space Science

Man has made it to the moon, rovers have made it to Mars, and now a lander is on a comet. On Wednesday, November 12th the European Space Agency landed a probe on comet 67P, which is 300 million miles from Earth. Sticking the landing was a huge achievement and gives scientists an opportunity to better understand comets and their role in providing the foundations for life.

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Sprinklers.square

Current Event October 29, 2014

Living in a Drought

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate

California is in the middle of a four year drought. The city of Santa Cruz has stepped up its conservation efforts with tough water restrictions. Water use is rationed by household, pushing residents to conserve in every way possible. This public radio story takes you to Santa Cruz and sheds light on how the city uses high penalties and water school to get people on board with water conservation.

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India.marsmission.square

Current Event October 15, 2014

India Goes to Mars Cheaply

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Space Systems

India successfully sent a spacecraft and probe to orbit Mars in September. The United States also has a probe orbiting Mars- but their mission costs ten times as much as the India mission. Why is that? From spacecraft, to orbit shape, to payroll - this public radio story explores why these price tags were so different.

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Composting.square

Current Event October 13, 2014

Recycling Food Waste

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Climate Change

The Seattle City Council is launching a mandatory composting program to stop people from throwing food waste in the trash. Mandatory recycling has expanded from yard waste, to normal recyclables, and now to compostable food waste. With the addition of a third trash bin, the city hopes to collect 100,000 tons of food waste a year. Listen to this public radio story to hear about the motivations, logistics, and goals of the program.

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