Topic: Culture

Current Event January 17, 2021

Weird News: Big Tip for No Service

Health Culture Community

Listen to hear about a coffee shop barista who was generously rewarded for his efforts.

Vocabulary: shame, haul

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Current Event January 15, 2021

Debate: Should Breakdancing be an Olympic Sport?

Culture Sports

Breakdancing is the latest sport to be added to the Olympic games. Breaking is an athletic dance style incorporating acrobatics, dance moves, and freestyle footwork. It was first performed on New York City streets in the 1970s, typically to hip hop music. Some say becoming an Olympic sport could cause breaking to lose its character as it moves farther away from its urban roots. But it might also inspire a new generation of young breakers. Listen to hear a veteran breakdancer’s response and then debate: Should breakdancing become an Olympic sport?

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Current Event January 3, 2021

Weird News: New Zealand Wizard Retires

Culture Community Theater/Drama Fantasy/Magical Realism

Listen to hear about a wizard from New Zealand who is passing on his wand.

Vocabulary: successor, possess

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Current Event December 10, 2020

Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

Culture Religion Ancient Middle East

Jelly donuts are traditionally eaten to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah, but even many Jews are not sure why. The holiday began in ancient times, when a miracle was declared after a small amount of oil burned for eight days. Eating foods fried in oil, such as donuts, reminds Jews of the miracle. But why the jelly? Listen to hear the story behind jelly donuts and how they became a traditional Hanukkah food.

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ELA

A Poet Celebrates the "Owed"

Race Culture Poetry Writing Process

Poet Joshua Bennett has published a poetry collection of odes titled Owed that celebrates people, places, and objects that he feels have not received the positive recognition they deserve. In this interview, he reflects on his experience as a Black teenager attending an elite private school. He explains how it influenced the subjects of his poetry. Bennett also shares how his perspective has changed about his writing process and his family. Listen to learn more about Owed and to hear Bennett read excerpts of his work.

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Current Event November 18, 2020

Scientific Discovery Announced in Blackfoot

Culture Earth and Space Science Native Americans

After 100 years of searching, scientists in Washington state have detected gravitational waves, vibrations in space caused by the collision of black holes. The historic news was translated into dozens of languages so people around the world could share in the celebration, including Blackfoot, an endangered language spoken by a local indigenous tribe. Listen to learn why scientists decided to announce their discovery in a native language, hear how it sounds, and learn why the gesture held special meaning for the Blackfoot community.

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Current Event October 27, 2020

Talking with Ghosts: Spiritualism in America

Culture Gender Religion

The American spiritualist movement was founded on the belief that people can communicate with the dead. It began in the mid-1800s and, at its height, had millions of followers. Many early spiritualists were women, and they often used their voices to support women’s rights. In this audio story, an author describes her trip to a spiritualist community in Maine and what led her there. Listen to learn more about the history of spiritualism, and hear what happened when the author participated in a seance.

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Current Event October 21, 2020

Iroquois Nationals Prepare for Top Lacrosse Competition

Culture Sports

One of the best lacrosse teams in the world was left off the invitation list to the 2022 World Games. The Iroquois Nationals are considered the third best team worldwide. The Native American members of the team come from a generations-long tradition of playing lacrosse, a sport that originated with the Haudenosaunee people. When another team heard how the Nationals were snubbed, they took decisive action. Listen to learn why the Iroquois Nationals were excluded from play and how others responded to what they saw as an injustice.

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Current Event October 18, 2020

Weird News: Cardboard Car at a Drive-Through

Culture Transportation Food

Listen to hear about a family trip to McDonald’s in a cardboard car.

Vocabulary: craving, embarrassed

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Current Event October 15, 2020

Native American Cultural Burning Prevents Forest Fires

Culture Human Impacts

Wildfires are burning out of control in California and other western states. Recently, officials have turned to traditional Native American practices to help combat them. For thousands of years before being removed from the land, Native people applied controlled fire to a variety of plants. The technique boosts new growth and helps clear away dead matter that could fuel uncontrolled wildfires. Listen to learn how cultural burning was suppressed in America and why officials believe that bringing it back could help reduce or prevent future blazes.

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Current Event October 9, 2020

Debate: Should TikTok Be Banned in the U.S.?

Technology Culture International

A judge recently blocked President Trump’s order to ban all U.S. downloads of the video sharing app TikTok, which is currently owned by a Chinese company. Trump views the app as a national security threat, saying that the data it collects from American users may be accessible to the Chinese government. Defenders of the app say no evidence exists that the Chinese government could access American TikTok data, which is housed in the U.S. Listen to learn more about the controversy surrounding TikTok and then debate: Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.?

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Current Event September 27, 2020

Weird News: Mac and Cheese Fiasco

Culture Community

Listen to hear about a mac-and-cheese accident of enormous proportions.

Vocabulary: tragedy, fiasco, damaged

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Current Event September 13, 2020

Weird News: Sandwich Support Saves Diner

Culture Community

Listen to hear about how a generous customer helped support a diner during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vocabulary: anonymous, gesture

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Current Event September 6, 2020

Weird News: Young Skateboarder Shreds World Record

Culture Sports

Listen to hear about a young skateboarder setting a world record for landing a 1080-degree spin on a vertical ramp.

Vocabulary: uninspired, rotation, opportunity

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Current Event August 26, 2020

The Return of Drive-In Movies

Culture Entertainment

Drive-in movie theaters are having a resurgence during the pandemic. The first drive-in was created by Richard Hollingshead in the 1930s and quickly gained popularity as an easy, inexpensive place to go for a night out. At one point, the country had over 4,000 outdoor movie theaters, although as new forms of entertainment arose, drive-ins declined. Listen to learn how the inventor’s mother helped launch the idea and what people found most appealing about watching movies from their cars.

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Current Event August 23, 2020

Weird News: Teens Grocery Shop for Elderly

Health Culture Community

Listen to hear about how two teenagers created a grocery shopping program for the elderly.

Vocabulary: connect, volunteer, appreciation

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Current Event August 16, 2020

Weird News: Safe Hugs with Grandma

Culture Community

Listen to hear about how a shower curtain helped a man safely hug his grandma during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vocabulary: solution, transparent

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Current Event August 9, 2020

Weird News: Social Distancing Shoes

Culture International Community

Listen to hear about special shoes that can help people keep a healthy social distance from others.

Vocabulary: typical, benefit

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Current Event August 2, 2020

Weird News: Stuffed Animals Ride Roller Coaster

Culture Animals

Listen to hear about the adorable roller coaster riders replacing human visitors during the pandemic.

Vocabulary: hurtle, historic

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Current Event July 19, 2020

Weird News: Space Chess

Technology Culture International

Listen to hear about two astronauts in space playing chess with an expert on Earth.

Vocabulary: versus, draw, anniversary

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