Science Middle School
The Tibetan Plateau is one of the highest and coldest places on Earth. Many of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mt. Everest, is on the Tibetan Plateau. For millions of years, animals living in this region have needed to adapt to extremely cold temperatures. When an ice age took over Europe and Asia about 2.5 million years ago, this adaptation may have given animals living on the plateau an evolutionary advantage. Listen to hear about the discovery of the woolly rhino on this plateau and the new theories resulting from the discovery.
Current Event May 2, 2017
A female baby mountain lion has been found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Mountain lions in the recreation area are very isolated as the park is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields, and greater Los Angeles. Therefore, scientists believe that the baby mountain lion is likely a product of inbreeding among related lions with limited mating choices. This could lead to genetic defects and abnormalities in the mountain lions. Listen to learn more about the newborn mountain lion and the concerns about mountain lion inbreeding.
Current Event February 24, 2017
One animal shelter is using social media to lead to raise animal adoption rates. Over the course of the last five years, a government-run shelter in Virginia went from euthanizing one-third of all stray animals to a nearly 90% adoption rate. By reaching out to the public for help on social media, the Animal Care and Control department has been able to find more animals homes more quickly. Listen to learn more about this department's innovations and then debate solutions in class on how social media can help save more abandoned dogs and cats.
Current Event January 3, 2017
The U.S. Capitol is a very dog-friendly workplace and lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the Capitol since the 1800s. They used to sit at Congressmen’s feet in the Senate Chamber and roam the hallways with their owners. There are occasions when the dogs fight with each other, but mostly they are a friendly face in the lawmakers’ workplace. Listen to hear more about these dogs and their long history in the Capitol.
Current Event October 20, 2016
When dog owners talk to their pets, they usually use praising words and speak in an approving, cheerful tone. Neuroscientists studied the brains of dogs to learn more about how they interpret praise. By looking at certain pathways in the brain scans, the research team discovered some interesting results that suggest dogs may process the meaning of the words they hear in addition to the tone of voice. Listen to hear the details of the study about what dogs understand when we speak to them.
Current Event September 22, 2016
Sharks can live to be over two hundred years old, and recently a Greenland shark was found who may have lived up to 512 years. These sharks are the longest living vertebrates known to exist. They can be found swimming in the Arctic seas, where researchers are spending time studying the old creatures. Listen to the story to hear more about this fascinating species.
Current Event September 15, 2016
Dolly the sheep became famous two decades ago for being the first mammal to be successfully cloned. Today, four sheep that came from the same cells as Dolly have reached their ninth birthday. This is significant to scientists because it shows that it is possible for cloned mammals to live healthy lives into old age. Listen to hear more about this encouraging milestone for cloned animals.
Science Middle School
Woolly mammoths were large, elephant-like creatures that lived tens of thousands of years ago, during the last great ice age. The thick, furry coat is one of several traits that gave woolly mammoths an advantage in a very cold environment. Today, the closest biological relative is the Asian elephant, which prefers warmer climates. Scientists were curious about the genetic variations between the woolly mammoth and the Asian elephant, and what might account for the differences between the two species. In this audio story, we hear from a scientist who studied the DNA from the extinct mammoth and compared it to its contemporary descendant. Listen to learn more about what researchers discovered.
Current Event June 18, 2016
The Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to find out how bears will react to a new wind project. It will be the first commercial wind project on U.S. Forest Service land and will include 15 turbines.They started tracking bears by using radio collars to see how they move around before the turbines are in place. The collars had many problems, so they started using cameras to track the bears. Now they have data to study bears and wildlife both before and after the wind project begins. Share this story with your students so they can learn more about this wind project in Vermont and its impact on wildlife.
Current Event June 2, 2016
Two recent incidents at Yellowstone National Park highlight a problem. In one incident, visitors walked off the boardwalk at a hotspring, and in another, visitors put a bison calf in their trunk to keep it warm. There are record numbers of visitors to National Parks and educating them all about wildlife and safety is a huge task. Regardless of visitor’s intentions, park officials are hoping to reduce the numbers of incidents. Listen to hear more about managing visitors’ behavior at National Parks.
Current Event May 12, 2016
Packs of wolves in Yellowstone National Park give researchers a chance to study their behavior. When a wolf howls, a howling chorus responds. In the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups and the howls change with the seasons. Now researchers are working to understand what the howls actually mean. Listen to hear more about the way a wolf howls.
Current Event April 27, 2016
Residents of one Chicago neighborhood are anticipating a big rat problem in the near future. That’s because the city is tearing down an old hospital, and the construction will likely disturb the many rodents living underground. While developers and city officials are anticipating the onslaught by setting out poison baits and traps, residents are turning to a different solution: cats. Listen to the story to find out more about how these cats can help keep rats away.
Current Event March 30, 2016
SeaWorld was known for its shows that feature killer whales doing tricks for an audience, but they’ve been phasing out these shows because of complaints from animal welfare groups. The critics have also wanted SeaWorld to end captive breeding of orcas, or killer whales. Recently the SeaWorld CEO announced it will end captive breeding of killer whales. It will expand other attractions, and increase rescue operations of marine mammals. Since orcas have a long life, they will introduce new, natural encounters with their orcas. Listen to hear more about the changes at SeaWorld.
Current Event February 25, 2016
Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. For a long time we’ve counted on their noses to help us find bombs. However, dogs have had some trouble detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Navy is currently funding research to improve their detection skills in this area. By exposing dogs to thousands of different scents, scientists are training dogs to recognize potentially explosive ingredients and mixtures. Listen to the story to hear more about this life-saving research.
Current Event January 5, 2016
On the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland, dinosaur footprints were recently found. They look like potholes the size of trash can lids and were made by dinosaurs about 170 million years ago. The site is along the northern coast, near what used to be a lagoon. Dinosaurs are normally found on land and not so near the water. Listen to this story to learn more about this discovery and how it changes our understanding of dinosaurs.
Current Event December 30, 2015
Humpback whales sing and continually change their songs. In the 1960’s Navy engineers used underwater microphones to record sounds in the ocean to locate enemy ships. They happened to also record whale sounds. Scientists studied these sounds and discovered that only male humpback whales sing and they gradually modify their songs. The humpback’s songs have patterns and rhythms and are not just random sounds. Listen to hear more about how sound is used to learn about the life of whales.
Current Event December 28, 2015
The field of bioacoustics, studying the sound of animals, extends far below the surface of oceans. Whale vocalizations can be used as data to track migration and populations. Researchers have found ways to identify which whales are making which sounds. But in oceans, human-made sounds are often louder than other noises, making it hard for marine animals to hear the sounds in their own world. Listen to this story about what can be learned by tracking whale sounds, and how new guidelines are helping whales communicate with each other.
Current Event December 24, 2015
Ornithologists listening to various bird calls were surprised to discover that different animal species shared the same warning call. For instance, squirrels closely mimic a bird’s warning call. These scientists record sounds in the wilderness all over the world to learn about animal communication. In this story they share different ways they provoke the birds into making bird calls so that they can be studied. Listen to hear about the discoveries of scientists who listen closely.
Current Event December 23, 2015
Elephants roar and stomp and make loud sounds. They also make other sounds too low for humans to hear. Researchers are studying the secret signals of elephants by living among them in Africa. The audible calls are just a fraction of the elephants’ conversation. They have a longer ear canal, bigger eardrums and can hear much lower frequencies than people can. Researchers have matched the rumbling sounds with specific behaviors, such as looking for a baby elephant or greeting each other. Listen to hear more about the hidden language of elephants.