Topic: Life Science

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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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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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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 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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Current Event October 12, 2017

2017 Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine

Life Science Human body

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards given to people who make outstanding contributions in the areas of science, culture, or academics. This year the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was given to three U.S. scientists for their discoveries about how internal body clocks govern human biology. Our daily rhythms, our sleep and awake cycles, are related to the cycles of the sun. We typically get tired in the evening and feel awake during the day. Listen to hear more about this discovery about how our internal clocks work.

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Current Event October 10, 2017

How Your Body Responds to Stress

Life Science Health Psychology

Everyone has experienced stress, which is your body’s response to a demand made on it. A surge of hormones is released when people are stressed and that helps them deal with the danger or threat, but it also affects the nervous system and can cause health problems. When we experience a lot of stress, our bodies don’t easily return to a relaxed state. Listen to hear more about what stress does to our bodies and what we can do about the impact of stress.

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Current Event October 5, 2017

Elephant Seals Have Signature Snorts

Life Science

The sounds of male elephant seals are different and each has a unique rhythm. A new study suggests that alpha males are recognized by their calls during mating season. If other males hear the call, they will scatter. An elephant seal’s call is loud and is also used to signal who they are. Males have unique rhythms and females have calls to threaten and calls to their pups. Listen to hear more about the new discoveries about what the calls of elephant seals mean.

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Current Event September 27, 2017

The Link Between Research and Inventions

Life Science Earth and Space Science Physical Science

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on basic research. A new study shows that money is not wasted since there is a strong link between basic research and future patented inventions. Researchers studied 4.8 million patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office and 32 million scientific papers and found a strong link between new technologies and research. Listen to hear more about this link.

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Science High School

Editing Human Genes

Life Science DNA Biotechnology Cells

We live in an age when genetic engineering has the capacity to affect the course of human evolution. Scientists can edit human DNA, which could have profound benefits for society, but this ability also comes with dangers. Editing human DNA can allow for the treatment and prevention of disease, but this modified DNA can also become a permanent part of human genes, passed down from generation to generation. The scientific community met to discuss these issues. While experts agreed that creating a baby with edited DNA is unsafe, the support continued research to see what is possible. Listen to hear more about this issue and what scientists have concluded.

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Current Event September 20, 2017

Why Some Animals Are Faster Than Others

Life Science Animals Evolution

Animals with long limbs and lots of muscle should be faster than other animals. In reality, even though a giraffe has much longer legs than a cheetah, it runs only about half as fast. This is because there are other factors involved in acceleration and speed of animals, such as how much energy they have to burn. Listen to learn about how new research on animal speeds can give scientists clues about the lives of prehistoric animals.

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Current Event September 5, 2017

How Zebra Finches Learn to Sing

Life Science Education KERA

Humans and baby birds appear to be very different creatures, but scientists are studying certain birds because they learn their songs in a similar way that humans learn speech. A new study from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has shown similarities between how both species develop language. Listen to the lead scientist as he explains how a network of neurons in the brains of zebra finches could provide insight into how humans learn to speak.

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Current Event August 16, 2017

Tricky Spiders Avoid Predators

Life Science Evolution

Animals employ all sorts of techniques to avoid becoming prey. This is a story about one species of spider that have learned to mimic the movement of ants to avoid detection by predators. Listen to learn more about the life of a professional insect impersonator.

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