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?
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.
Current Event August 16, 2018
Scientists recently discovered a variety of million-year-old stone tools in Kenya. These discoveries allow archaeologists to better understand our early human ancestors’ lives and how they developed more sophisticated tools as time went on. As it turns out, there are some important parallels between ancient stone tools and modern technologies. Listen to learn more about this exciting find and hear how it relates to life today.
Current Event August 13, 2018
Facebook recently deleted pages and accounts it believed were run by Russians attempting to influence the upcoming midterm elections. Unfortunately, this also affected a valuable page American protesters were using to gain grassroots support. This issue raises important, unresolved questions about the relationship between Facebook, free speech, and propaganda. Listen to learn what an expert on civil liberties thinks about censorship on social media.
Current Event August 10, 2018
Recently, tech workers have been protesting some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce. They’ve urged their employers not to work with certain segments of the U.S. government. This is a very unusual request for employees to make of their companies, but it isn’t completely unheard of. Listen to learn more about these protests and what they could mean for the future of technology.
Current Event August 1, 2018
The malaria parasite kills more than 500,000 people every year. An engineering professor recently decided to make a difference in this issue by working with her students to find a solution. The answer she and one student came up with is surprising, but genius: magnets. Listen to learn more about the professor’s project and find out how magnets could help people suffering from malaria all around the world.
Current Event July 11, 2018
Birds evolved from dinosaurs, but scientists still don’t know exactly how. The species Ichthyornis is a creature that falls directly between a dinosaur and a bird. A recently discovered fossil of this ancient seagull-like animal revealed some fascinating information. Its characteristics are helping scientists solve the mystery of how ancient dinosaurs became modern birds, complete with beaks and large brains. Listen to this audio story to learn more about the Ichthryornis.
Current Event June 27, 2018
Every four years, Adidas designs a custom soccer ball for the World Cup, and the 2018 event in Russia is no different. In past years, the style and structure of the balls have actually interfered with how they move, making the games unpredictable for athletes. That’s why this year, scientists tested the new Telstar 18 ball to make sure it works properly. Experts explain how this new ball compares to past years’ and the real reason Adidas creates a new ball design for every World Cup. Listen to learn more about this high-tech soccer ball.
Current Event June 14, 2018
Illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America to the United States is currently a major political issue. Politicians and citizens have strong opinions on both sides. In order to help people better understand what it’s like to attempt crossing the border, a Mexican film director created a virtual reality exhibit that allows users to experience it for themselves. Based on the true stories of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, the director hopes this exhibit will foster more compassion and empathy. Listen to learn more about this project and its aims.