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Segment 1: Understanding the basics of what a virus is

With the increase in COVID-19 cases in this country, questions are swirling around the novel coronavirus. We thought this a good time for a Virology 101 primer. Gene Olinger described how viruses work, why they like humans, and why it is difficult to kill a virus once it enters our bodies.

Segment 1: What is a non-disclosure agreement? 

After Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly questioned fellow Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's use of NDAs, these contractual documents made headlines around the country. Today, we discussed what the agreements are, how they are used and who they benefit.

The more than 13 million American households that get their drinking water from private wells aren’t required by state or federal environmental agencies to test their water, sometimes leaving dangerous contamination unchecked for years. Now high school students and other community members are learning to test their own water. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

What if you accidentally cut off a piece of your finger, and two weeks later that piece grew into your clone? Tiny creatures with that ability are swimming in tanks at Kansas City's Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and they've inspired a new collaboration between scientists and artists.

Segment 1: Teachers highlight current events and human impact to help students learn about climate change.

Teachers are seeing less resistance to teaching climate change in Missouri schools. The state has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, and one Raytown High School teacher said, "I've also changed my approach some, in the sense that I really don't indulge argument on the topic at this point."

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Middle schoolers in the Kansas City area are paying close attention to Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists making waves across the world. They’re also proposing their own solutions for global warming.

“I like to see kids taking action about what might happen in the future,” said Liam McKinley, an eighth grader at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Olathe. “I like to come up with random ideas about how we can fix that, even though it might not be achievable in the next few years.”

Segment 1: Research points to health dangers, but billions of pounds of Roundup are applied to plants each year.

Investigative journalist Carey Gillam has spent 20 years researching and reporting on the dangers of Monsanto's Roundup, and has seen the corporation attempt to discredit scientists and journalists. The product is increasingly popular, with global application increasing 16-fold since the 1990s. Gillam says, "it's not an understatement to say we're actually poisoning the planet."

A new set of analyses published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine challenges the widespread recommendations to cut back on red and processed meats.

Segment 1: Three journalists based in Washington speak to the unique challenges of covering national politics up close.

Each day brings something exciting and newsworthy in Washington, D.C., whether it's an impeachment inquiry or a new health care policy. Three journalists spoke about navigating the political web of the Capitol, the "glorified stalking" of politicians for quotes, and the sheer enormity of working in the nation's hub for political decision-making. 

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Faculty, students and alumni are pleading with the University of Kansas not to ax a teacher-training center slated to become the next victim of major budget cuts — or at least to extend its life a few more semesters.

KU announced earlier this month that the Center for STEM Learning will close in June. Students say they were blindsided, and that KU’s promise to create a more cost-effective path for math and science teachers doesn’t satisfy them.

Can you land an airplane on the deck of a submarine? Can you build a swimming pool out of cheese? Can you lift a house with two helicopters glued together? These are the strange and hypothetical questions that inspire Randall Munroe, whose internet-famous comic series xkcd is known for its stick figure cast and impractical wit. Dig deep enough for answers, and you may just learn a lesson in science.

Virgin Hyperloop One

It sounds like science fiction hype, but supporters believe ultrafast Hyperloop transportation could become reality within a decade, propelling passengers from Kansas City to St. Louis in a 30-minute trip.

“We’ve already completed a feasibility study, and now we’re on to the next steps with this. It’s happening quicker than even I would have guessed,” said KC Tech Council President Ryan Weber, who is working with numerous other Missouri officials on a project that he predicted could be implemented in about seven years.

Segment 1: A NASA Hall-of-Famer discusses the Apollo 11 mission.

Five decades after witnessing the first man step on the moon, Lynn Bondurant shared his deep knowledge of the monumental mission to explain what it took to fly three men the 238,900 miles to Earth's most notable satellite — and back!

Seg. 1: Immigrant Anxiety | Seg. 2: Volcano Gear

Jul 18, 2019

Segment 1: How Kansas City immigrants are dealing with threats of raids.

"Just in case" is the phrase Celia Calderon Ruiz uses to sum up how people in her community are dealing with the possibility of a raid in Kansas City. Our guests offer clarification on the constitutional rights of migrants, regardless of status.   

Seg. 1: Recruiting Gen Z | Seg. 2: Fireflies

Jul 11, 2019

Segment 1: What changing recruitment techniques say about our changing culture.

Move over, millennials. The new new workforce is going to be made up of Generation Z, born in or after 1997. The incentives and benefits packages being offered to new recruits by major companies already reflect that generation's needs and values.

Segment 1: Two years after Kansas prison riots, facilities are still overcrowded and understaffed.

In 2017 riots broke out in Kansas prisons highlighting the understaffed and overcrowded conditions that exist there. State lawmakers said those conditions still exist and even with the steps taken in the latest session to correct them there is still a long way to go.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A teenager wakes up, gets ready for school. Slips a smartphone into her pocket on the way out the door.

Her day may well include some biology or chemistry, history, algebra, English and Spanish. It likely won’t include lessons on how that smartphone — more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions — and its myriad colorful apps actually work.

Ashley Coats / Glore Psychiatric Museum

Skulls and bones have a lot to say.

Among the most basic pieces of information they hold are the gender, age and sometimes cause of death of their former user.

"It's all recorded on the bones. All we have to do is teach people how to interpret those markers left on bone," says Ashley Burns-Meerschaert, who is headed to the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri to teach forensics classes.

Segment 1: Researchers explain the data of who is receiving an abortion and why.

A study by Guttmacher Institute analyzed data from their 2008 and 2014 surveys on abortion and found an increase in the proportion of low-income women who received abortions. The University of California San Francisco conducted its own study following women who were able to receive an abortion, and contrasted the unintended effects of pregnancy with those women who were denied an abortion.

Segment 1: Deadly domestic violence cases reached a twenty-year high in Johnson County, Kansas. 

Segment 1: New initiative on domestic violence.

Jackson County has a new intiative to protect victims of domestic violence and to stop homicides by monitoring people identified as likely to do so. In this conversation, we speak with the Jackson County prosecutor about the initiative and what she hopes the outcome will be.

  • Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor

Segment 2, beginning at 23:46: Your inner fish.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

UPDATE: On April 5, after this story was first published, both chambers of the Kansas Legislature passed a measure mandating notice that the abortion pill may be reversible, sending the bill to Gov. Laura Kelly's desk where it currently sits. The amended bill includes a compromise sought by Democrats under which physicians who attempt a reversal would report the outcome to state health officials.

Segment 1: The Tomb of the Unkown Soldier is located at Arlington National Cemetery.

Established in 1921, the Tomb is the final resting place for unknown service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in both World Wars and the Korean War. Hear the history of the monument and what it takes to become a sentinel at this national landmark.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When Uhunoma Amayo found out his science experiment was one of just 34 selected to be carried out this spring on the International Space Station, he was shocked.

"They pulled me out of class," says Amayo, a seventh-grader at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. "I was dumbfounded."

Amayo is one of four students at Coronado who designed the experiment, which will explore whether mint grows as well in orbit as it does here on earth.

Kansas City Kansas Public Schools

Segment 1: Can news comsumers tell the difference between fact and opinion?

Turn on any news channel and try to determine if you're hearing fact or opinion. Can you do it? That's one of the topics our Media Critics tackled today, along with what is behind the brewing legal battle between Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning and the Kansas City Star. They also dig into the coverage of the alleged assault of actor Jussie Smollett.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado just got back from vacationing with a colleague at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The two were taking a leisurely walk along the water's edge when they decided to turn over a rock, just to see what might be underneath it. 

University of Missouri Professor Emeritus George Smith has received the university’s first-ever Nobel Prize. In a ceremony Monday, he was recognized by the Swedish royal family.

StoryCorps

StoryCorps' MobileBooth came to Kansas City to collect the stories and memories of residents. This is one in a series of stories KCUR has chosen to highlight.

Stephanie Nowotarski is a lot of things at once. She's a postdoctoral scientist working on electron microscopy at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City. She's an artist working in a wide variety of media. 

She also experiences auditory-tactile synesthesia — When she hears some sounds or music, she sometimes also experiences them as touches.

 

 

MU Professor Emeritus Dr. George Smith has officially touched down in Stockholm, Sweden to begin a week of celebrations during Nobel Prize Week. Smith is the co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his development of bacteriophage display, which allows a virus that infects bacteria to create new proteins. The method was used in research to develop many pharmaceuticals, including some related to osteoporosis.

CC - eggrole / Flickr

Segment 1: Medical cannabis is now legal in Missouri, but doctors are not trained on how to prescribe the drug. 

It's been two weeks since Missourians voted to allow the use of medical marijuana in the state. However, because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, research on its efficacy and side effects is limited. The executive dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences spoke to concerns physicians have about recommending a drug they don't know enough about.

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