Topic: Earth and Space Science

Diamond smal

Current Event July 24, 2014

Scientists Study Other Uses for Diamonds Because They Can Withstand High Pressure

Earth and Space Science Geology

Diamonds are the hardest materials on Earth—and in space. Neptune’s core is made out of diamonds and still survives the core’s intense pressure. Scientists now study diamond’s resistance to high pressure to see what else it’s useful for. Listen to this radio story to learn more about diamonds.

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Wind chill factor

Science Middle School

Calculating the Wind Chill Factor

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate Physical Science

Before World War II, a wind chill table and a formula were developed which scientists followed until it was updated at the beginning of the 21st Century. Now, scientists are still trying to understand the best way to calculate wind chill. Listen to learn from people who experience wind chill and how it can affect more things than others.

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Using grass for electricity

Science Middle School

Burning Grass for Alternative Electricity

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Physical Science Ecosystems

Energy experts are thinking about ways to replace coal that’s burned in American power stations. One alternative is to burn plants because they can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This results in biomass power. Listen to learn about a movement in the Midwest that uses millions of acres of grass for biomass power.

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Weathering and erosion

Science Middle School

Beach Erosion Threatens Infrastructure

Earth and Space Science Environment Geography Ecosystems Physical Science Oceans Human Impacts

What happens when human structures and nature come into conflict? Ocean Beach in San Francisco is naturally eroding, but the consequence of this shifting shoreline is that a sewage treatment plant is put in peril. Without intervention, raw sewage could be dumped into the ocean. A rock wall has temporarily stabilized the pipeline, but not without complications. Listen to learn about the other solutions that are being considered, including construction of an artificial dune.

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Quieting the ocean

Science Middle School

Noises in the Ocean Threaten Marine Animals

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Oceans Human Impacts Sound

Human behavior continues to have an effect on marine life under the water. This story highlights how humans make the ocean so noisy. Scientists are worried that the noise is causing a disruption to animals and threatening their existence. Listen to learn what humans are doing and what can be changed.

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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

To copy 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 process is called “biomimicry,” or using ideas from nature to solve technological problems. This discovery could lead to reusable water bottles that refill themselves. Listen to learn why this invention would be inexpensive and how close scientists are coming to making it work.

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Fracking and earthquakes

Science Middle School

Research Shows Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Energy Geology Forces and Newton's Laws

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that when the drillers get rid of wastewater from fracking, it goes into the ground and causes earthquakes. This is happening in places such as Arkansas, and now residents are speaking up to try to put a stop to it. Listen to learn how residents figured out where the earthquakes were coming from and how they are taking the issue to court.

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Science Middle School

Microscopic Marine Organisms Can be Beautiful and Deadly

Life Science Earth and Space Science Ecosystems

Dinoflagellates are tiny marine microbes that make up the foundation of the aquatic ecosystems. They often go unnoticed because of how small they are, but any seafood you've eaten has eaten a dinoflagellate. A theater group has developed a musical centered around dinoflagellates and through song and dance reveal a lot that is unknown about the sea creature. Listen to learn from the musical numbers and find out how dinoflagellates have the potential to be more dangerous than sharks.

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Fish sounds

Science Middle School

Fish Sounds Indicate Behavior

Life Science Earth and Space Science Ecosystems Oceans

Marine biologists are studying the sounds that fish make. They believe that sounds are vital to understanding fish behavior. By studying the sounds that fish make when trying to attract mates and when breeding, biologists may be able to stay clear of them during those times to help them reproduce more productively. This protects the fish from human behavior. Listen to learn how this will help fishermen ensure the species don't die out.

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Cooking up a super volcano

Science Middle School

Cooking Up a Supervolcano

Life Science Earth and Space Science Geology

Giant volcanoes appear every few million years, and their eruptions are rare, but they are deadly. The ash and gas released into the atmosphere have the potential for significant harm. So scientists are studying two new suspected volcanic “hot spots" and are trying to figure out why they erupt. Listen to learn how seismic waves give scientists a picture of the large regions where intense volcanic activity could develop in the distant future.

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Cloud seeding

Science Middle School

Cloud Seeding for Weather Modification

Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate Physical Science Agriculture Energy

There is a debate over whether cloud seeding is an efficient way to produce more snow and rain in places where droughts are the worst. Opponents claim that the chemicals that are sprayed into the air to create more water are toxic and could cause health issues in the future. Others believe this is the only way to for some gas and electric companies to obtain more energy. Listen to learn about the other concerns at hand and if this the history of this process.

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Bees and electric fields

Science Middle School

Bees and Electric Fields

Life Science Earth and Space Science Ecosystems Evolution Electricity Reproduction

Flowers have many ways of attracting bees for pollination. Bees are looking for nectar and pollen when they visit plants and flowers, as well as various colors, patterns, and shapes. Recently scientists have discovered a new way that flowers attract bees. They can sense the electric fields around flowers. Listen to hear about the natural positive charges of bees, the negative charges of flowers, and how the electric attraction works for pollination to happen.

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A delicious solution to our energy problem

Science Middle School

A Delicious Solution to Our Energy Problems

Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Electricity chemistry

A new source of energy is being developed by using Michigan's industrial food waste. Using existing technology for converting manure into electricity, these anaerobic digesters are doing their work on pudding packs and canned peaches, among other delicacies. Listen to learn how they are turning waste into electricity.

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Drought in the south has the cattle industry booming in the midwest

Current Event June 26, 2014

Drought in the South has the Cattle Industry Booming in the Midwest

Economics Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate

The drought in California and Texas has meant cattle herders have little pasture to graze their herds. Instead, cattle herding is moving north to Colorado and Nebraska. The midwestern states are feeding the cattle with the byproduct of ethanol production. Use this public radio story with your class to discuss how these changes affect the price of a hamburger.

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Sexism in storm names

Current Event June 18, 2014

Sexism in Storm Names - Gender Makes a Difference

Earth and Space Science Gender Weather and Climate

Studies show that people react differently to male and female named storms. There is more preparation and fear of storms with male names, such as Victor, versus a storm named Christina. As a result, there are serious implications of this unconscious gender bias. Listen to this audio story to learn more.

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Fighting gravity

Science Middle School

Gravity's Strong Pull is Actually a Weak Force

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

Even though it is the weakest of all forces, gravity is why we exist. Gravity keeps the earth, moon, and sun in orbit. It keeps us on the ground instead of floating in space. Listen to hear how gravity affects the velocity in rockets, the shapes of planets, the trajectories of baseballs, and even the strength of the human leg bones.

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Some californians

Current Event June 11, 2014

Some Californians Want to Make Water Available to the Highest Bidder

Economics Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

California's drought is causing water prices to vary region to region. This makes some farmers want to sell their water—but they're worried that it might negatively affect their water allotment. Economists say the answer is a better engineered irrigation canal and use of the free market. Listen to this radio story to learn why.

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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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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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