Science Middle School
For such a small molecule, caffeine has long been a controversial substance. Throughout the day, the human body produces a molecule called adenosine that can induce feelings of fatigue. Caffeine is a molecule that reverses the effects of adenosine. This results in feelings of alertness. But the impacts of caffeine can be dangerous. Listen to hear what determines whether caffeine is beneficial or harmful, and how to prevent caffeine-related deaths.
Current Event November 5, 2015
If you have looked closely at the eyes of different animals, you will notice their pupils come in various shapes: round, vertical or horizontal ovals or crescents. Scientists now think they know the reason behind the shape of some animals’ pupils. There is diversity in shape because it depends on how big the animal is and whether it’s a predator or prey. It also relates to their view of the horizon. Listen to hear more about the new discovery and what it can tell us about animals and evolution.
Current Event November 3, 2015
Tiny, 8-legged creatures are crawling all over your face. This isn’t a scene from a horror movie. This is a fact. We’ve all got mites on our face and we have probably had them since before we were human. Occasionally, face mites are linked with skin issues, but they are mostly harmless. By studying these microscopic creatures, scientists can learn a lot about evolution. These mites travel with us through generations and can help trace our origins. Listen to this story to hear more about what can be learned from studying face mites.
Current Event October 23, 2015
How much stress we experience growing up can affect our health later in life. This was discovered during a study which assessed the emotional health, diet and habits of hundreds of people from childhood through adulthood. They analyzed the relationship between stress and disease and found people who had persistent stress were at the highest risk for disease. But surprisingly, people who had periods of high stress when they were between the ages of 7 and 16 showed a high risk for chronic illness, even if they were not stressed as adults. Listen to this story and start a debate in your class about whether stress is helpful or harmful to students.
Current Event October 21, 2015
We all spill microorganisms from our bodies onto things we touch and come into contact with. Each person’s microbes are different and identifiable. A recent discovery that analyzed DNA from bacteria in the air shows that along with leaving these microbes on things, we also release them into the air. This allows scientists to know, for example, if someone has been in a room in the last few hours. In people who work and live together, their microbiomes can start to become similar. Listen to learn what interesting things scientists are learning about what our microbe cloud says about us.
Current Event October 6, 2015
There are over one million high school football players in the United States. This sport requires hitting and being hit. Even with helmets there is a high risk of head injuries and concussions. In 2011, Texas lawmakers took action and a “return to play” law was passed. This required students with hits to the head have medical clearance before returning to play football. Some parents and families are concerned this legal action doesn’t go far enough. Brain injuries are invisible, hard to diagnose and there is a risk of repeated concussions. Listen to this story to hear more about protecting the health of student football players.
Current Event October 1, 2015
Caffeine in coffee and soft drinks is known for keeping people awake. It alters the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s master clock. Not getting enough sleep and being out of sync with the natural world is harmful and can be linked to diseases such as cancer and obesity. A recent study showed that caffeine can contribute to irregularities in circadian rhythm. People who drank caffeine before trying to sleep showed a delay in the release of the hormone melatonin, which typically surges at night. Studies still have to be completed about whether caffeine affects people’s inner clocks if they drink it earlier in the day. Listen to hear more about the effects of caffeine.
Current Event March 27, 2014
The human nose is actually more powerful than your eyes because it can detect more than one trillion unique smells. Scientists believe that if the universal code behind each smell could be deciphered, you can do things like send smells over the internet.
Current Event February 18, 2014
50,000 years ago, the arctic was not icy—but grassy, full of life and of course, woolly mammoths. After studying these giant animals’ DNA found in feces and soil, scientists hypothesize their extinction may be due to a flower. Listen to this story to find out why.