Current Event March 4, 2016
After a shooting in San Bernadino, California, a controversy has erupted around national security and data privacy. A federal judge has ordered the technology company Apple to access private data on the shooter’s cell phone. Apple has refused to comply. While the government feels that accessing this data is crucial for national security, Apple believes that doing so would be an invasion of privacy. The results of the case could impact the ways that phones are designed in the future. Listen to the story and debate with your students the issue of personal privacy versus national security.
Update: The FBI dropped its case against Apple to require them to unlock the iphone because it was able to use a third party to access the data on the phone.
Current Event February 19, 2016
Most of the 1.3 billion people in India have no way to go online. Facebook has offered a free version of the internet to users in India, with selected apps. Since only selected content is free, India has prohibited this access. It upholds the principle of net neutrality, that the Web is open and prioritizes no service over another. The government of India doesn't want Facebook to be the gatekeeper of content and says people should be allowed to select their own content. Others say free service for the poor should be pursued. Listen to this story and debate with your students: Should the Internet be free or paid?
Current Event February 12, 2016
Cyberbullying is relatively easy to get away with, and nearly half of students report being bullied online. A new app could stop this trend. The app is called STOPit and allows students to report bullying anonymously. Schools buy the app and ask students to send in screenshots and report on when they see bullying on social media. Listen to hear more about this new way to address bullying and then debate with your students: What’s the best way to stop bullying?
Current Event February 11, 2016
Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. In tests, it is 100 times faster than an average home Wi-Fi connection. Li-Fi uses LED lights to transmit data and these lights can become communication devices. The spectrum is larger and slow downs that are often seen in Wi-Fi are not an issue. Listen to hear more about this exciting invention.
Current Event August 18, 2015
Farm work is on the decline, but work in agriculture-related business is booming. Two ways that technology is transforming the farming business is in creating websites where farmers can find bargains on seeds and selling technology solutions to help farmers collect and monitor data. Listen to hear the many new jobs that are being created using technology in interesting ways to improve farming businesses.
Current Event June 19, 2015
Not all people can hear. Some people are born deaf and others lose their hearing during their lifetime because of an illness. Because hearing loss is complicated, there isn’t one solution. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are common solutions but they don’t work for everyone. A new procedure called an auditory brainstem implant might be the solution for people who don’t respond to traditional hearing aids. Listen to learn more about the human ear, causes of hearing loss and the new solution this procedure presents.
Current Event June 10, 2015
When veterans return from combat they bring with them memories of their service that can impact their mental health. Successfully screening returning veterans for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression is a challenge. The University of Southern California has designed a computer program, known as Ellie, that could help solve this problem. Ellie analyzes the tone and facial expressions of soldiers as they answer questions. It’s able to detect more than you might think. Listen to learn more about this promising new technology and how it can help veterans heal.
Current Event April 8, 2015
Social media is used to post pictures, follow others, and communicate with friends and family. But it can also be used to share pictures of everyday life with people across the globe, changing perspectives and worldviews. This happened when Ugaaso Abukar Boocow, a Somali refugee living in Canada, returned to Somalia to explore her home country and spend time with her mother. The media often focus on civil war, violence and poverty that has plagued Somalia since the early 90’s, but Ugaaso is exposing the world to the beauty and small moment of everyday life in the Somali capital Mogadishu through her Instagram feed.
ELA High School
The Amish are a Christian religious group who are known for their isolation and rejection of modern technology. Popular culture has shaped our understanding of the Amish community, from the Harrison Ford movie Witness to TLC’s show Breaking Amish. But this lens on the Amish doesn’t show the complexities of their religious culture. Listen to learn more about the Amish and their complicated but thoughtful relationship with technology.
Science High School
Discussion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions often occur at the national level. Nations promise to lower emissions and scientists look for alternative energy sources. But new software is providing data for this emission reduction discussion at a local level. The software allows people to have a view into their carbon emissions on the level of a city, neighborhood, block and even household. Listen to learn how scientists and local officials are working together to track and understand emissions at the local level.
Current Event February 19, 2015
Complex computer algorithms designed to weigh options and make choices are consistently outperforming humans. The algorithms aren’t perfect, though, and many people have a hard time trusting them. Why do we feel this way? Would you trust a computer to make an important decision in your life? Listen to learn more about how algorithms work and why humans often mistrust them.
Current Event February 15, 2015
Two office supply giants are hoping to join together to increase their value. Staples is planning to buy Office Depot so that they can compete with the sale of inexpensive office supplies at stores like Walmart as well as online. This shift says something larger about the economy and the way we work, buy and use technology. Listen to learn how the market is changing as we digitize work
Current Event February 5, 2015
People often play video games to escape reality or fight pretend wars. Journalists are combining video games and news to flip this reality - bringing real images of war to viewers through the virtual reality of video games. From the Syrian Civil War to conflict over oil, listen to learn how virtual reality is being used to generate empathy and support deeper understanding of existing conflicts and complex systems.
Current Event January 25, 2015
Since 9/11 the military has been developing and using unmanned airplanes, known as drones, to fight the war on terror. Increased intelligence and electronic sophistication has transformed drones into powerful tools for surveillance and war. Drones can be small with cameras, or the size of fighter jets. The first all-drone airport is opening in Texas, marking a new era in drone development. Listen to learn more about this trend and its potential applications.
Current Event January 16, 2015
Human diseases such as cancer impact human cells differently depending on the person. This makes it important for scientific researchers to have access to a variety of human cells - healthy and infected - to find medicines that fight or cure disease. A new technique of growing cells uses a layer of mouse cells to fuel human cell growth. It’s changed the game in cancer research. Listen to learn how this technique developed and how it lead to a breakthrough in cervical cancer research.
Current Event December 12, 2014
Cyberattacks on businesses have the power to shut down day to day operations and compromise security. A recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, in which five movies were leaked and sensitive information was disrupted, is believed to be a result of North Korea’s cyberwar capacity. Sony Picture’s upcoming comedy “The Interview” in which two American journalists go to North Korea to interview and kill its leader, is not considered funny by the North Korean government. The North Koreans are believed to have conducted the cyber attack on Sony to retaliate for the release of the movie. Listen to learn more about this attack and evidence that points to its North Korean origins.
UPDATE 12.18.14 - Sony Pictures has pulled the release of the movie "The Interview." In a statement Sony said "Sony has no further release plans for the film."
Current Event December 11, 2014
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.
Current Event December 4, 2014
We use clocks throughout the day to mark the passage of time and organize our days, but what is time? For scientists who study time this is a surprisingly difficult question and it is becoming more complicated as even more accurate clocks are developed. Listen to learn more about a clock that is so accurate the passage of time varies based on where the clock is located.
Current Event November 27, 2014
It is hard for books to compete with the instant communication of Twitter or Facebook and the endless content on websites likes Buzzfeed. Book loving young people are now using these websites to create content honoring or inspired by books. Listen to learn more about these adaptations and their potential impact on literacy.