Current Event December 6, 2017
For people facing issues from stress to self-harm, there is a new way to get support. The Crisis Text Line provides free crisis intervention through text messages. Counselors have exchanged more than 50 million messages with people who are in crisis and need to talk with someone right away, but might not feel comfortable making a phone call to a traditional crisis hotline. In this story you’ll hear one volunteer counselor explain how she intervenes when people are in crisis and text for help.
Current Event November 17, 2017
Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. Offenses are banned under law, but on the Internet what is fake and what is hate speech is not always clear. The German parliament recently passed a controversial law imposing big fines on social media companies that fail to remove illegal, racist or slanderous posts. German ministry officials are anticipating a large volume of complaints about censorship. Listen to this story about social media and offensive posts, and the debate: Should social media sites be fined for not removing fake news and hate speech?
Current Event November 14, 2017
A group of fathers in Texas wanted to be sure every student in their schools had a father figure. So they created a group called All Pro Dads. This group of volunteers now has 1,300 fathers who serve the school district. At every school there are dads who welcome students as they are dropped off to help them start their day. They provide male role models in an effort to support students with mentorship, positivity, and encouragement. Listen to hear from volunteers as well as students about this program.
Current Event October 31, 2017
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.
ELA High School
Two men imprisoned in Somalia began tapping messages to each other through a thick wall. One man had Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina”. Because they were forbidden to talk, one man tapped the story out on the wall, letter by letter, to the other man. The more the other man heard of the novel, the more he understood his own situation and feelings and ultimately, how to get through one of the most difficult experiences of his life. Listen to this story about how a book can inspire empathy and change your life.
Science Middle School
Thirty years ago, the nation watched in shock as the space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after take off, tragically killing all seven crew members, including a civilian teacher. This shuttle had launched and landed successfully nine times before this tenth launch. One of the rocket engineers feels partially responsible to this day. In a recent interview, he explains that he and his colleagues had anticipated the failure, and had warned officials that conditions weren’t right for the launch. When NASA ignored their warnings, the consequences were fatal. Listen to hear more from a NASA engineer’s perspective on this tragic event.
Current Event October 10, 2017
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.
Current Event October 6, 2017
A role model is a person who can be imitated by younger people, and have an impact on their behavior, choices, and values. Sports stars have been looked up to as role models, however some such as Charles Barkley, a retired professional basketball player, have declared that he is not a role model. What are the responsibilities of people who are paid to play sports? Listen to this commentator’s opinion, and then debate: Should athletes be considered role models?
ELA Middle School
"Harry Potter" is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends and teachers. It turns out that the boy wizard can also have an effect on the real world. According to a recent study, reading "Harry Potter" books could have an effect on empathy and the attitudes of readers. Listen to find out how J.K. Rowling’s work might make a real difference to its readers.
Current Event July 5, 2017
In the mid 1800s our understanding of the brain was radically changed as a result of a freak accident. Phineas Gage survived an accident that drove an iron rod through his head, but he had some changes in his personality. This case highlighted the relationship between the structural parts of the brain and changes in behavior. Listen to hear more about what this case can tell us about the brain and personality.
Current Event June 28, 2017
Two teenagers started a relationship in 2012, mainly through texting, which ended tragically. When Conrad Roy became depressed, his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, encouraged him to seek treatment, but then began to encourage him to commit suicide. Roy intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide and Carter sent him emails urging him to stay in the truck. For her encouraging texts and failure to act, Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The judge based his ruling on the words she used, extending the boundaries of criminal law. Listen to hear more about this ruling and what it might mean for future cases.
Current Event April 26, 2017
A team of neuroscientists is working on studying how the brain reacts when we tell lies. What they found is that as one tells more lies, each progressive lie shows less brain activity associated with conscience or guilt. This means that being dishonest becomes easier overtime. However, facing negative consequences as a result of lying will cause the brain to react and discourage lying. Listen to learn more about the brain science behind lying.
Current Event March 27, 2017
The results of the 2017 World Happiness Report are in, and Norway is at the top of the list as the happiest country in the world. As one might imagine, developing countries show some of the lowest rates of happiness, but some low- and middle-income countries such as Nicaragua are showing encouraging gains. Interestingly, the United States has dropped from 13th to 14th place on the list, which the World Happiness Report attributes to declining social support. Listen to learn more about the findings and what factors support happiness around the world.
Current Event March 16, 2017
Studies show that teen girls are more vulnerable to depression. In fact, girls are three times more likely than boys to become depressed, due in part to social pressures such as the overemphasis on physical appearance and the prevalence of social media. Not only are girls more likely to use social media, they also appear to be more vulnerable to the emotionally damaging effects of a constant, virtual connection. Listen to learn more about trends in teenage depression and the role of social media.
Current Event March 2, 2017
New studies have found that when people eat the same food, they feel more connected, leading to greater trust and cooperation. Scientists have found that in addition to the experience of spending time together and enjoying conversation during meals, people also strengthen connections when they eat the same food. Listen to learn more about the relationship between food, trust and cooperation.
Current Event February 17, 2017
Charities are beginning to use virtual reality as a way to make donors feel more empathetic to a cause and potentially increase the amount they might donate. Several charities have created virtual reality experiences designed to put ordinary people in the place of others who are suffering. The hope is that virtual reality will make these unfamiliar experiences more concrete, and therefore, make people feel more empathetic. Listen to learn more about the virtual reality experiences being developed and then debate whether you think virtual reality can make you more empathetic.