Topic: Life Science

Better barn owl

Current Event October 11, 2018

What Owls Can Teach Us About Attention and Focus

Life Science biology

Researchers are studying barn owls to better understand how they are able to focus so intensely, with the goal of shedding light on why some humans struggle with focused attention. Specifically, they are studying how the owl brain ignores all the information that distracts from what is most important to the owl’s survival. Listen to learn how and why research on owl brains might be able to help people with attention issues.

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Electron microscope

Current Event September 27, 2018

Predatory Bacteria Could Save Antibiotics

Life Science Health biology Cells Human Body

Some tiny, microscopic bacteria hunt and attack other bacteria, including those that make people sick. Scientists are now researching possible uses of these predatory bacteria in treating infections. They are also interested in whether these germ-eating germs might be useful in the event of germ warfare. Listen to hear how this exciting research could impact people’s lives.

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Monarch butterfly

Current Event September 20, 2018

Creating Urban Habitats for Monarch Butterflies

Life Science Environment Elementary Ecosystems

Monarch butterflies are in danger. In addition to their beauty, monarchs contribute to the ecosystem by pollinating wildflowers and by providing food for birds, small mammals, and insects. However, their life cycle depends on the milkweed plant, and its availability is shrinking. Listen to hear what conservation ecologists recommend as a solution to this environmental problem that many people can help to put into action.

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Dictionary

Science Middle School

Low

How We Learn Language

Life Science Language

Language is complex, but children are natural language learners. Language itself is unique to humans, and many scientists want to know more about how humans are capable of learning language. Some theories suggest humans are born to be able to process and use language; however, a researcher studying language learning in children, thinks differently. He has been studying the sounds, grammar, vocabulary as well as eye movements and brain activity in children, and he has made some discoveries. Listen to learn more about language research that helps to explain why we have language and how we learn it.

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Current Event June 5, 2018

Dinosaur-Eating Crocodile

Life Science KERA biology

A teenager recently discovered what turned out to be the fossil of a large, dinosaur-eating crocodile in northern Texas. Many amateur fossil hunters enjoy looking for ancient animals’ bones in this rocky area. At the site, for example, a combination of harsh living conditions exposed dirt makes it easier to uncover all sorts of fossils. An expert explains how fossil hunters help him discover ancient species. He also describes why dinosaurs fascinate us and how they can help us learn more about science. Listen to learn more about this dinosaur-eating crocodile.

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Science High School

Neanderthal Genes Live in our Hair and Skin

Life Science DNA Human body Human origins

Scientists are beginning to answer questions about whether our physical appearances and behaviors are linked to the DNA of an extinct species of hominid. Unexpectedly large portions of Neanderthal DNA are being found in the genomes of many modern humans. New evidence suggests that inherited Neanderthal DNA can vary dramatically from individual to individual, with some receiving beneficial genes as well as rejecting others. Listen to hear how these new findings are affecting our understanding of human evolution.

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Current Event May 23, 2018

Food Calories Now Posted at Restaurants

Life Science Health Nutrition Human body

The United States government recently passed a law that requires all major restaurant chains to post the calories of their dishes on their menus. Studies have demonstrated that having this information about their food causes diners to cut back on the number of calories they consume. This can help them lose weight and avoid the dangers of obesity, especially since some foods have more calories than you might think. Listen to learn more about this law and its benefits from two experts on nutritional policy.

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Current Event May 4, 2018

Debate: Should Schools Keep Using Classroom Skeletons?

Life Science Education Ethics

A lot of classroom skeletons, in high schools, universities and medical schools, are real human bones. A former student investigated the skeleton that hung in the back of her high school classroom. She consulted with the Smithsonian, and with a lab at Penn State and analyzed the skeleton to find out where it was from, how old it was and even what the person ate. In the 1800s there was a legal trade in human bones, which leads to some tricky questions about whether skeletons should be used in classrooms at all. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools keep using classroom skeletons?

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Current Event April 20, 2018

Debate: Should DNA Determine the Sport You Play?

Life Science Technology Sports

New technology can help athletes gain a deeper understanding of how their bodies work. By submitting their DNA, athletes can see the results of their genetic fitness assessment. This can help athletes personalize their training routine, gain information about their ability to build muscle, or find out how prone they are to joint injuries. The results are organized in categories to let people know what they need to work on. Listen to learn more about this new technology and then debate: Should DNA determine the sport you play?

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Current Event March 6, 2018

Football Changes Kids' Brains

Life Science Sports KERA

Research on former players of the National Football League shows that brain injury is linked to repeated blunt impact. But little is known about the connection between football, brain damage, and young players. A scientist in Texas studied football players between 8 and 18 year old and measured how their brains changed after one season. They used sensors in football helmets to tell how hard the players were getting hit. Listen to hear the results of this study and suggestions for preventing these injuries.

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Current Event February 23, 2018

Debate: Should We Clone Monkeys?

Life Science DNA

The first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was a sheep named Dolly in 1997. The Dolly clone proved that cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from. Since then, scientists have been trying to use the same technique to clone other animals. Dogs, pigs and other animals have been successfully cloned, but the first primate clones were recently born in China. Since monkeys are people’s closest relatives, this may allow scientists to study human diseases and develop cures. Listen to hear about the benefits and concerns of cloning primates and then debate: Should we clone monkeys?

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Science High School

Da Vinci and Patterns of Tree Branches

Life Science

Trees can stand up to 100-mile an hour winds during strong hurricanes. Why do some trees survive and others don’t? The answer may be in a mathematical pattern in tree growth—first observed by Leonardo da Vinci. The rule states that smaller tree branches have a precise, mathematical relationship to the branch they came from. A scientist that is studying how air flows around objects is also studying this pattern in tree branches and looking for an explanation. Listen to hear more about these observations about trees and mathematics in nature.

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Current Event January 17, 2018

Giant Prehistoric Penguins

Life Science World History I

Paleontologists now have proof, as a result of a recent discovery of fossil remains, that giant penguins existed long before whales even entered the ocean. It's an ancient species of penguin that swam off the coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago, soon after dinosaurs became extinct. The smaller penguins we know today stem from prehistoric penguins that were once the size of a human. Listen to learn why these animals went extinct and the timeline of their existence.

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Current Event November 29, 2017

Sleep Vital to Brain Health

Life Science

When people don't get enough sleep, it can affect attention, reflexes, and communication. Even the reactions of people are different when they are well rested from when they are deprived of sleep. A group of scientists studying epilepsy also studied the effects of sleep deprivation. They learned that when people don’t sleep enough, certain brain cells literally slow down. Listen to hear more about how important sleep is to the way we process information.

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Science Middle School

Learning to Garden and Cook in School

Life Science Health Nutrition Plants

Many schools now have gardens where students grow and harvest food that they cook themselves in class. The “Let's Move Initiative,” a program created by former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010, has generated awareness about school gardens and teaching cooking skills that enable students to learn about healthy lifestyle habits in an effort to fight the national obesity epidemic. Listen to learn more about how a gardening and cooking project at a school in Maine is a rewarding way to learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyle skills through hands-on class activities.

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Current Event October 31, 2017

The Best and Worst Halloween Candy

Life Science Psychology

On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.

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Current Event October 26, 2017

Outgrowing Food Allergies

Life Science

An estimated 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Some are potentially life-threatening and avoiding the allergen can be challenging and stressful. The blood tests and skin prick tests rule out specific food allergies but are not as accurate when confirming food allergies. The oral food challenge, where the food is eaten under the supervision of a doctor has become the gold-standard for determining allergies. Listen to this story about allergies as a health concern and the best way to tell if the food allergies have been outgrown.

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ELA Middle School

Low

Jane Goodall Gets Up Close with Animals

Life Science

Jane Goodall is a well known advocate for ecological preservation. Her book "Hope for Animals and Their World" is about her experiences rescuing endangered animal species all over the world. She makes the case for not only saving cute animals like chimpanzees but for preventing rare plants and insects from dying out because it’s vital for sustainability and the proliferation of all kinds of life. Listen to learn more about her experiences with species near extinction and preserving entire ecosystems on our planet.

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Science High School

Clinical Trials Don’t Reflect the Diversity of America

Life Science Race Gender Genetics

American doctors rely on clinical trials to determine which drugs to use in treatment. Researchers have found that clinical trials have not been effective in creating drugs for America’s diverse population. When clinical trials are too homogeneous, they can miss important potential discoveries. Patients who are diverse ethnically and racially can respond differently to medications, leading to dire consequences in some cases. Listen to learn how a lack of diversity in clinical trials affects patients and how researchers are trying to fix it.

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Current Event October 17, 2017

Wildfires Devastate Parts of Northern California

Life Science

Forest fires across Montana, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California have burned over 8 million acres of land this season. In Northern California, fires have killed at least 23 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. The dry conditions and extreme heat, along with high winds, have helped the fires spread quickly. Listen to this story about the destruction caused by the fire in a mobile home park in northern California.

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