Current Event November 14, 2019
The Surgeon General announced a campaign to educate young people about a drug he says is more dangerous than kids realize – marijuana. Today’s marijuana is typically three times stronger than in past decades and comes in different forms. Teens who use it regularly are more likely to do poorly in school, experience depression, and become addicted. But as marijuana has become legal in over 30 states, many teens seem unaware of the serious health risks it poses. Listen to hear a medical expert talk about the dangers of marijuana use and how the president has personally supported efforts to raise awareness.
Current Event October 25, 2019
A recent study says teens are experiencing increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues. Although the causes of the trend are not clear, some experts believe hours spent surfing online and using social media have sparked feelings of isolation and anxiety among young people. Others argue the stress stems from teens facing an uncertain future. Listen to experts discuss the roots of this troubling trend and then debate: Can social media cause depression?
Current Event October 17, 2019
Mosquitoes are biting insects that can bother people at summer barbecues, but they have also played an important role in human history. One historian says that mosquitoes have been critical in changing the course of history, primarily by spreading deadly diseases that have killed billions of people. He explains how new genetic tools might be used to eliminate the threat to humans posed by these dangerous insects, which offer no clear ecological benefits. Listen to hear the surprising ways that mosquitoes have influenced history and how mosquito populations could potentially be controlled.
Current Event October 16, 2019
Low-income urban neighborhoods are often hotter than wealthier neighborhoods in the same city. This is problematic, especially during heat waves, when residents’ health and even their lives could be at risk. One of the reasons poorer areas get hotter is because they tend to have fewer trees. Listen to learn how trees keep communities cool and why they are more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others.
Current Event October 10, 2019
Vaping has been linked to illness and even some deaths, and critics are arguing that ads targeting young people contribute to this growing public health problem. Vaping advertisers are looking to successful cigarette ads of the past to help them attract new users. They emphasize flavored varieties that appeal to young people and promote vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Listen to hear how vaping companies are working with advertisers to skirt regulations and craft ads that attract teens to the risky practice of vaping.
Science Middle School
All animals, including humans, need to sleep. Scientists have several theories that help explain why we sleep. In this episode of But Why, a child sleep psychologist describes the evolutionary theory of sleep and explains how sleep benefits the brain and body. Listen to learn more about the science of sleep and its importance for healthy growth and development.
Current Event October 9, 2019
Would you be willing to wade into swamp water filled with bloodsucking worms? That is exactly what scientists did in order to learn more about leeches. Their efforts paid off when they discovered a brand new species of leech. Listen to hear how this recently discovered parasite uses its three jaws and why it is called a “medicinal” leech.
Current Event September 27, 2019
In response to the recent epidemic of opioid deaths, many states have filed lawsuits seeking millions – even billions – of dollars from drug companies. They say the companies misled the public about the dangers of opioids and ignored the problem of misuse. The companies say they are not responsible for how people used their product. A recent settlement awarded the state money to help pay for addiction treatment. Listen to hear more about penalties against drug companies and then debate: Should drug companies pay for opioid addiction treatment?
Current Event September 25, 2019
Recent weather has led to an increase in snake populations across the United States. Given this trend, it is important to understand how to avoid being bitten by these animals and what to do if the worst case scenario does occur. Listen to hear insights from a biologist and an emergency room doctor about how to avoid snake bites and how to handle them if necessary.
Current Event September 14, 2019
In Newark, New Jersey, and other places like Flint, Michigan, the water that comes out of the tap is no longer safe to drink. Lead that was used to prevent old pipes from rusting has now contaminated it. Listen to hear more about how this water crisis is affecting people’s daily lives and how New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is trying to change the law and use state funds to replace Newark’s old water pipes.
Current Event August 27, 2019
The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that shares a border with Egypt. In the ongoing conflict between Israel and the the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, this region has been subjected to many attacks, blockades, and power struggles. With the economy suffering and violence escalating, many people who live in Gaza want to leave. Listen to hear stories of people who have decided to leave their home and learn how the departure of so many is affecting Gaza.
Current Event August 14, 2019
As India produces more and more garbage, giant mountains of trash are growing around its cities. The mountain of waste in New Delhi is nearly as tall as the world famous Taj Mahal. This creates an awful smell and a variety of safety issues, but some poorer Indians have also used it as an opportunity to create their own waste-based businesses. Listen to learn more about how these entrepreneurs turn trash into treasure and the risks they take in mining these man-made garbage mountains.
Current Event August 8, 2019
Have you ever wondered how far humans can push themselves physically? A scientist recently conducted a study to help answer this question. He studied athletes who ran six marathons a week for months to learn about what determines their capacity to expend energy over time. Listen to find out more about what researchers understand about human endurance and hear one scientist’s surprising take on what constitutes the height of human capability.
Current Event June 11, 2019
The middle school winners of this year’s NPR Podcast Challenge chose a topic that few of their classmates or teachers felt comfortable discussing. This group of girls from a school in the Bronx,New York chose to focus their podcast on menstruation and periods. They investigated the stigma of talking about periods and associated feminine hygiene products and discussed changes they would like to see. Listen to hear more about the team’s winning podcast and why they decided to take on the taboo topic of periods.
Current Event June 7, 2019
Researchers from the United Kingdom now have scientific evidence that using e-cigarettes is significantly more effective for quitting smoking than other methods. However, U.S. public health officials worry that promoting e-cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction. Listen to this story to hear about the research study findings and debate: Is reducing smoking worth increasing nicotine addiction?
Current Event May 30, 2019
Everyone feels stress, which can have a significant impact on health. A new book explains how and why stress affects the body and describes what people can do to lower the negative effects of stress on their health. Listen to this interview with the authors to learn about the evolutionary value of stress and how to keep it from causing burnout in today’s modern world.
Current Event May 29, 2019
The air thousands of feet high in France’s Pyrenees Mountains should be some of the cleanest on Earth. However, recent research revealed that the air at the top of the mountains actually contains microscopic plastic. Listen to learn more about the experiment that revealed this surprising fact, why it matters, and what researchers plan to investigate next.
Current Event May 2, 2019
A new book makes the case that the data pool informing medicine, industrial design, digital technology, and a wide variety of other sectors reflects a clear, if unconscious bias towards men. The book provides examples of how this data bias plays out in women’s health and safety and in other aspects of life. Listen to this interview with the author to hear about the impact of this implicit cultural bias and her recommendations for addressing it.
Current Event April 17, 2019
A blind runner recently completed the New York City Half Marathon with his guide dogs. He has run many marathons with human guides, but completing this race was an important accomplishment for all involved. Listen to this story to learn about this courageous runner and his helpful dogs and find out what he hopes to do next.
Current Event March 1, 2019
Most of those infected with measles during a recent outbreak in the Pacific Northwest were unvaccinated children. While doctors and public health officials strongly recommend vaccinations, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Parents’ wishes, however, may differ from those of their children. Listen to this interview with a high school student who decided to get vaccinated when he turned 18, against his mother’s wishes, and debate: Should teens control their own health care?