The Scripps National Spelling Bee has only been cancelled twice, first for three years during World War II and then in the year 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped the spellers from studying, practicing, and learning new words. Two students who were supposed to compete in the 2020 spelling bee have some techniques and rituals they use to help them along. Listen to hear more about their quirky rituals and how they use strategies like identifying root words to help them spell unfamiliar words.
Current Event April 15, 2020
An experiment to improve people’s memory while they sleep has shown promising results. Researchers asked participants to learn a new video game, then tested whether their memories improved after electrical signals were sent to their brains while they slept. Scientists say the technique could someday help people boost their ability to learn. Listen to hear a reporter describe the brain cap she wore for the study and learn about potential concerns raised by the research.
Current Event January 9, 2020
Gifted autistic teens can have trouble finding summer programs that push them academically while also supporting their particular social needs. The University of Iowa’s College of Education summer program welcomes teens with autism spectrum disorder and provides the social and academic supports necessary for students to explore advanced subjects in math, science, and the arts. Listen to hear teens with autism spectrum disorder describe their experiences and how this unique summer program has made a difference in their lives.
Current Event August 30, 2019
It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?
Current Event August 28, 2019
Many decades ago, children from poor families participated in an early childhood educational program known as the Perry Preschool Project aimed at improving the children’s academic achievement. While the program did not have the effect that the researchers anticipated, it did have a positive impact on their lives and on future generations. Listen to learn about the long-term effects of the Perry Preschool Project and how this study may shift the way we prepare students for success.
Current Event April 10, 2019
Scientists are curious about how humans evolved to help each other, which is different from the typical behavior of other animals. To investigate social behaviors such as helping and sharing, researchers have performed experiments to see how willing other primates are to share food and supplies. Listen to learn about their research on how other primates approach sharing and how that differs from human behavior.
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 May 25, 2018
Some California school districts recently tried providing the SAT for free during the school day for high school juniors. While the cost for this first year was funded by a grant, future years of free SATs could be provided by a California bill that would allow school districts to to pay for the SAT or ACT rather than standardized tests. Supporters of this bill think it is important to reduce barriers to taking the SAT, while opponents argue that standardized tests are absolutely necessary. Listen to this story about how one high school is offering the SAT for free and then debate: Should the SAT be free in schools?
Current Event May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.
Writing college application essays can be stressful. Some companies are trying to help applicants through the process by analyzing essays of admitted students, gathering data, and offering targeted advice. But one college counselor cautions that sometimes, trying to follow these tips can lead students astray. Instead, she hopes that students will look to themselves for inspiration and write essays using their own voice. Listen to hear more about how students can stay true to themselves as they write college essays.
Current Event December 15, 2015
Hundreds of people sleep by the side of noisy roads typical in India’s largest cities. The same is true in other low-income countries. Researchers are now looking at whether or not a lack of sleep may actually be a root cause of poverty. Researchers are studying the real-world impact of chronic sleep deprivation, and the impact on how people make, and avoid, decisions. When people are tired, they don’t have the mental capacity to deal with some decisions and that can keep them from making good choices. Listen to hear more about how lack of sleep can affect learning and brain functions.
Current Event November 27, 2015
The biggest test in the life of a South Korean teenager is the college entrance exam. All high school seniors take it on the same day each year, and there are many preparations to make sure students can fully concentrate on the exam. In South Korea, there is a belief that you will fail at everything unless you do well on this exam. However, if you do well, you go to a good school and get a good job. That’s a lot of pressure for students. This exam is much like the SAT or ACT in the United States. Listen to hear about high stakes testing in Korea and then debate: Should one test determine students' academic futures?
Current Event September 29, 2015
In general, being impulsive is not a good thing. But people who risk their lives for strangers don’t think before they act. They just act. The three Americans who took down armed gunmen on a train to Paris said their military training was not as important as their instinct to help. Many studies have been done on intuitive thinking and reflective thinking. Researchers learned that it’s possible to develop a person’s automatic response to help along with a willingness to act without thinking about the consequences. Listen to hear more about the key to being a hero.
Scientists are trying to settle the age-old question of nature versus nurture. To test it out, scientists experiment on ducks to help determine whether animals are born with no knowledge of the world and only learn things from experience, or whether they emerge with some knowledge already intact. Listen to hear how the experiment is done and what it can tell us about nature versus nurture.