Topic: Engineering

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Current Event November 1, 2017

Infrastructure Upgrades Slow in Coming

Politics Engineering US government

There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.

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Science Middle School

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Challenger Engineer Blames Himself

Psychology Engineering Space

Thirty years ago, the nation watched in shock as the space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after take off, tragically killing all seven crew members, including a civilian teacher. This shuttle had launched and landed successfully nine times before this tenth launch. One of the rocket engineers feels partially responsible to this day. In a recent interview, he explains that he and his colleagues had anticipated the failure, and had warned officials that conditions weren’t right for the launch. When NASA ignored their warnings, the consequences were fatal. Listen to hear more from a NASA engineer’s perspective on this tragic event.

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Science Middle School

A New Rechargeable Battery

Technology Engineering Energy chemistry

People rely on batteries to power our technology: laptops and phones run on rechargeable batteries. These can leak and are full of chemicals. But over time, these batteries stop re-charging, forcing us to purchase a new battery. But what if our batteries never died? A new battery was recently created that can last over 100 times longer than typical batteries. Listen to this story to figure out how one scientist has engineered a new battery.

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Current Event September 7, 2017

Minecraft Can Teach Coding

Gender Education Technology Engineering Class

Minecraft has become one of the largest and fastest growing games of all time. It is a game of free realm, allowing people to build whatever they please, with creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to Minecraft as it is costly to have all the equipment. One non-profit group is helping to provide access to a wider audience of future coders. Listen to hear about how this Minecraft camp exposes young kids to a future where creativity and computer science collide.

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Current Event September 15, 2016

A Birthday for Sheep Clones

Life Science Engineering Animals Genetics

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.

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Current Event August 13, 2015

Watch Out for Self-Driving Cars

Engineering Transportation Supply and Demand

Self driving cars are on the roads in some cities and could be coming to a highway near you. General Motors is only 5-10 years away from offering a self-driving car to the general public. But drivers are thinking about their privacy and safety as this new hands-free driving technology becomes available. Two hackers were recently able to remotely take control of a Jeep, which highlights concerns about cybersecurity. Listen to hear about the new automated technologies and the steps car companies are taking to ensure their customers are safe and secure.

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Current Event May 27, 2015

Secret Cold War Pilot

Civics/Government World History II Engineering Cold War

During the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union were in an espionage and arms race. From spying to building weapons and planes, the military and diplomatic corps were always working. Captain Roger Moseley was part of one of the most secret programs during the period, the development of the Stealth F-117 airplane. This airplane could avoid Soviet detection, allowing the planes to spy. Moseley wasn’t an obvious choice for such an important project, but an inflammatory speech made him attractive to the U.S. government spying program.

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Artificial photosynthesis

Science High School

Artificial Photosynthesis Produces Fuel

Life Science Engineering Biotechnology Plants

While humans need food and water to survive, plants are able to get their energy from the sun through a process known as photosynthesis. Engineers are now trying to replicate this process of converting sunshine to power through artificial photosynthesis. They are trying to create an artificial leaf. Listen to learn how these problem solvers are approaching the challenge step by step.

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Calculating a local carbon footprint

Science High School

Calculating a Local Carbon Footprint

Earth and Space Science Technology Climate Change Engineering Human Impacts

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.

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Engineering a cooler climate

Science High School

Geoengineering Combats Global Warming

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Engineering Human Impacts

Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.

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Current Event February 13, 2015

Careers in a Skilled Trade

Economics US History II Engineering Labor

American high school students are going to college at some of the highest levels in history. This increased emphasis on college readiness has meant a loss of focus on vocational education programs. As a result it’s created a void of skilled trade workers, such as mechanics, plumbers and electricians. As a generation of tradesmen retire, the U.S. education system might have to rethink how they approach teaching skilled trades. Listen to learn more about this debate.

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Current Event February 5, 2015

Empathy, War and Video Games

World History II Technology Engineering

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.

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Current Event January 25, 2015

Drones in Texas

Civics/Government Technology Engineering

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.

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Current Event January 21, 2015

Genetically Modified Potatoes

Civics/Government Life Science Engineering

Potatoes are a staple in many households. So it’s natural researchers have worked to create a better potato with genetic modification. Geneticists have been able to change and improve potatoes to make them safer and cut down on waste, but potato buyers are refusing to buy them. Listen to learn more about how the potato has been improved, but why many food manufacturers don’t want to use them.

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Current Event December 11, 2014

NASA’s Plans for Deep Space

Earth and Space Science Technology Engineering Space Systems

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.

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Current Event December 9, 2014

Building Friendly Streets

Civics/Government Engineering Industrialism

Most streets in the United States were designed for cars, not for people riding bicycles or walking. In densely populated cities this has meant that people are forced to live on streets where they don’t feel safe walking and cycling. A new movement, called “complete streets,” pushes cities to design streets to fit the needs of all the people who use it, not just people in cars. Listen to learn how this “complete streets” movement is being put into effect in cities across the country.

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Current Event December 4, 2014

Keeping Time

Technology Engineering

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.

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Current Event October 21, 2014

How Video Games Become Addictive

Technology Psychology Engineering

If you have ever had trouble putting down an addictive video game, you are not alone. Video games are actually designed using behavioral science to ensure that you will want to keep playing. This story gives you a behind the scenes look at how game designers plan to get you hooked.

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Current Event October 7, 2014

Preparing for a Future of Flooding: Build Parks

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Engineering

Nearly two years ago Hurricane Sandy devastated communities on the New Jersey coast, leaving governments, scientists, architects, and citizens looking for innovative solutions to protect against natural disasters. This public radio story looks at the design and thinking behind the New Meadowlands Project in New Jersey. From the appeal of a new Central Park, to the protection wetlands provide neighboring communities from flooding, this story will get your students thinking about the benefits and challenges of implementing big environmental protection projects.

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Current Event September 4, 2014

Earthquake Warning System on an App

Earth and Space Science Technology Engineering

Earthquakes cause damage and create fear and uncertainty. But a new early warning system called Shake Alert is working to mitigate both. This phone app can rapidly detect earthquakes once they have begun, giving people time to prepare. The app is in the early testing stage but it successfully gave a warning before the recent earthquake in California. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about the technology and goals behind this early warning system.

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