Current Event January 24, 2021
Listen to hear about a jeweler’s giant treasure hunt in Michigan.
Vocabulary: dramatically, participate
Current Event December 11, 2020
Theme parks throughout the country closed soon after the pandemic hit, although some have since reopened. To control outbreaks of infection, reopened parks have limited the number of visitors and imposed strict rules, including mandatory mask wearing. Many people lost their jobs when parks closed, and the reopenings have put some back to work. California public health officials have decided that theme parks like Disneyland should not reopen until the risk of COVID-19 spread in the surrounding community is lower. Listen to hear from people for and against theme park reopenings and then debate: Should theme parks reopen?
Current Event December 6, 2020
Listen to hear about a farmer who invited his neighbors to help solve a mystery.
Vocabulary: ornate, speculation
Current Event November 20, 2020
The U.S. Constitution, written over 200 years ago, established the structure of the new government, the basic laws of the land, and the rights of citizens. At the time, the institution of slavery still existed, and only white men had the right to vote. It might be argued that the document needs to be rewritten to better serve and reflect today’s diverse American society. It could also be argued that the Constitution is a living document that can be adapted to changing circumstances through amendments and flexible interpretation. Listen to learn about a play that explores the relevance of the Constitution and then debate: Is the Constitution outdated?
Current Event November 5, 2020
Many people feel stressed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, and some are turning to Tabitha Brown for comfort. Brown is a TikTok personality who posts cooking videos accompanied by words of love and encouragement. Her soothing presence has attracted millions of followers, including many young people. Listen to Tabitha Brown explain how she got started on TikTok and the responsibility she feels to her teen audience.
Current Event October 7, 2020
The popular game “Settlers of Catan” is celebrating its 25th anniversary. When it first appeared, the board game revolutionized game playing by requiring players to communicate and work together in order to win. Although the game has sold steadily through the years, its popularity has surged during the pandemic, when many people are stuck at home. Listen to hear the German inventor of the game explain where the idea for “Settlers” came from and why he thinks it continues to attract so many fans.
Current Event August 26, 2020
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.
Current Event August 9, 2019
AirDrop allows people with iPhones to share pictures and other media with others who are located near them through Bluetooth technology. This means that sometimes, people receive photos or memes on their phones from strangers. While AirDrop offers a convenient way to share files, and many teenagers are having fun with it, some use it in ways that could be harmful. Listen to learn about “AirDrop crossfire” and other uses of the technology and then debate: Do the risks of AirDrop outweigh the benefits?
Current Event July 22, 2019
One of the world’s favorite holiday traditions has a long history. Fireworks started in ancient China where people used explosives because they were believed to ward away evil spirits. From their beginnings as simple noise makers to the dazzling aerial displays that light up our night skies today, fireworks have relied on chemistry to create the sounds and colors that provide excitement and enjoyment. Listen to hear a chemist explain the history and science behind a worldwide celebratory tradition.
Current Event June 26, 2019
Can taking a photo of yourself be dangerous? There has been a recent rise in selfie-related deaths. Many visitors to national and state parks are putting themselves in dangerous situations to get the perfect photo, and some have even lost their lives in the process. Listen to learn about why people risk their lives for selfies and what some organizations are doing to stop this troubling trend.
Current Event May 24, 2019
What defines a movie? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Oscar awards for movies that have been released in theaters before being distributed on demand. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been producing original movies, and they want those movies to be eligible for Oscars, too. Some Academy filmmakers believe that such movies should not be eligible for Oscars. Listen to this story about the changing movie industry and debate: Should streaming-only movies be eligible for Oscars?
Current Event May 9, 2019
Marsai Martin is Hollywood’s youngest executive producer. The 14-year-old pitched the idea for Little, a new comedy about a powerful executive who wakes up one morning in a child’s body, and she stars in the film as well. The teen actor got her acting breakthrough at age 10 on the hit sitcom Black-ish. She is not classically trained, but her colleagues say she is wise beyond her years. Listen to hear more about how Little came to be and how Marsai Martin became its executive producer.
In this interview, actor Henry Winkler discusses his own learning difference and that of Hank Zipzer, the main character in Winkler’s children’s book series. Hank, who is based on Winkler’s own experience as a child, struggles with learning to read, but works hard to succeed despite his challenges. Listen to learn more about Winkler’s story, how he persevered through his dyslexia and achieved success, and what he considers his greatest accomplishment.
Current Event March 7, 2019
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting off big in 2019 with Captain Marvel. The film, which features a superheroine battling evil, is the first ever movie in the Marvel Universe with a female lead. In order to do the character and story justice, Marvel hired not only a female director, but also female producers and writers. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of those writers, and her experience has shown her that opportunities are limited for female screenwriters. The film industry has been historically dominated by men, which has had an impact on how female characters have been portrayed. Listen to a Captain Marvel screenwriter describe her experience as a woman in the film industry.
Current Event January 25, 2019
Many people believe that there is a connection between playing violent video games and acting violently. Research indicates that aggression and violence are complicated and not caused by a single factor. Listen to this interview with a psychology professor and researcher who has studied the impact of media violence on development and then debate: Do violent video games encourage violence?
Current Event August 7, 2018
Scientists recently conducted a study to see how emotions affect the way children eat. Using key scenes from “The Lion King” and a couple of snack options, the researchers observed how kids’ feelings influenced their food choices. Listen to find out what the study discovered about children’s emotional eating.