Current Event July 22, 2019
One of the world’s favorite holiday traditions has a long history. Fireworks started in ancient China where people used explosives because they were believed to ward away evil spirits. From their beginnings as simple noise makers to the dazzling aerial displays that light up our night skies today, fireworks have relied on chemistry to create the sounds and colors that provide excitement and enjoyment. Listen to hear a chemist explain the history and science behind a worldwide celebratory tradition.
Current Event July 3, 2019
A group of college students recently came together to attempt an extremely challenging task: launching a rocket into space. Large companies and universities invest a lot of time, money, and resources to launch a rocket, but these ambitious students were determined to do their best with much less. Listen to find out how the idea was hatched, what happened at their first launch, and what they hope other students might learn from them.
Current Event June 26, 2019
Can taking a photo of yourself be dangerous? There has been a recent rise in selfie-related deaths. Many visitors to national and state parks are putting themselves in dangerous situations to get the perfect photo, and some have even lost their lives in the process. Listen to learn about why people risk their lives for selfies and what some organizations are doing to stop this troubling trend.
Current Event June 13, 2019
Being able to communicate with someone using only mind power is the stuff of science fiction, but it might not be so far off in the future. At the University of Washington, scientists have developed a system that supports a very basic form of computer-assisted telepathy, or thought-based communication. While this technology has many potential positive uses, there are some serious possible risks to consider. Listen to hear how the technology works and what it might mean for the future.
Current Event May 22, 2019
A new natural disaster lab uses extreme methods to test which building materials are safest to withstand major storms and wildfires. Listen to find out why insurance companies want to invest millions of dollars in this lab and why climate change makes the lab’s experiments more important than ever before.
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 24, 2019
If Uber and other transportation technology companies have their way, people who use ride-hailing apps will soon be able to order flying taxis. These futuristic vehicles would quickly transport passengers from location to location, traveling high above traffic on the ground. Listen to find out how and when the dream of flying cars may become a reality, and what issues need to be considered before then.
Current Event April 18, 2019
Would you like to eat apples that never turn brown? Scientists hoping to genetically modify plants for crop development think they may have found a solution to a major problem they have been facing. The cell walls of plants make it difficult to insert genetic material into plant cells to change how those plant cells work. The solution–carbon nanotubes–was discovered by accident. Listen to learn about the discovery and implementation of this nanotechnology solution and how it could change the way scientists breed new crop varieties.
Current Event April 5, 2019
For years, parents have commemorated major moments in their children’s lives with a camera. These personal photos and videos often end up on social media, shared with wide audiences. Some kids like this exposure, while others do not. Listen to this story to hear a reporter with The Atlantic magazine talk about this social media phenomenon and then debate: Should parents share about their kids on social media?
Current Event February 26, 2019
Jonah Larson has become a very successful artisan and entrepreneur at the age of eleven. Larson got his start crocheting from watching YouTube videos, and now the pre-teen has become a social media star himself. The young entrepreneur sells his handcrafted products through his very popular Instagram page. Larsen’s business has grown so much that he has had to pause new orders as he catches up on old ones. Listen to hear how Jonah learned to crochet and what is next for this enterprising sixth grader.
Current Event February 14, 2019
Some people who are deaf use assistive technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. Others feel that using assistive technology impacts a deaf person’s identity. One teenager who was born deaf has had cochlear implants since she was a year old, enabling her to hear and speak. As a result, she has felt excluded by members of both the hearing and the Deaf communities. Listen to her reflections on her experience navigating both worlds as someone who is “hearing but deaf.”
Current Event February 13, 2019
An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.
Current Event February 1, 2019
A recent viral video showed a young child asking for help solving a math problem from Alexa, an automated virtual assistant that searches the internet. Some worry that with such ready access to technology, kids will miss out on important learning gained through independent problem solving. Others feel that kids should be able to get assistance from technology in the same ways adults do. Listen to multiple perspectives on the issue represented in this story and then debate: Should students ask Alexa for homework help?
Current Event January 25, 2019
Many people believe that there is a connection between playing violent video games and acting violently. Research indicates that aggression and violence are complicated and not caused by a single factor. Listen to this interview with a psychology professor and researcher who has studied the impact of media violence on development and then debate: Do violent video games encourage violence?
Current Event January 16, 2019
On New Year’s Day, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) spacecraft made history by encountering the most distant object ever visited, over 4 billion miles away. The piano-sized spacecraft has already transmitted images of an icy rock known as Ultima Thule, which scientists believe to be a pristine vestige of the early days of our solar system. Listen to this interview with a planetary scientist to learn why this event is so exciting and how the mission may further our understanding of our solar system’s origins.
Current Event January 4, 2019
Technology giant Google is facing pushback from its employees who are accusing the company of collaborating with the Chinese government to develop a search engine that would violate users’ privacy and allow government censorship. Experts say that Chinese residents would be unable to search for information using keywords related to human rights. The search engine would also provide the Chinese government access to the search history of users. Listen to learn more about this issue and debate: Should Google agree to let China censor online searches?
Current Event January 2, 2019
The popular video game Fortnite has millions of players, and while the game is free, Fortnite coaches are getting paid up to $25 an hour. Some of these coaches are hired by parents who want to help their children get better at the popular shooter game. Some experts believe that Fortnite is becoming something of a social proving ground for children with a lot of pressure to win. Listen to hear more about the how and why of Fortnite coaching.