This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The age of eight or nine, when kids complete third grade, represents a key turning point. Up until then, children are learning to read. Afterwards, they read to learn. Many educators believe that kids who can't read should be held back, and several states use standardized tests. Kids who don't pass are automatically held back, or retained.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Every politician knows that a drunk driving charge or a secret lover can come back to haunt come campaign time, but so can an unfortunate turn of phrase in an interview decades-old, a now-outdated policy position, a master's thesis or even, as Mitt Romney learned this past weekend, high school pranks that may have gone too far.
Last May, German investigators found secret files embedded in a pornographic video on memory cards being carried by a suspected al Qaeda operative. Peter Wayner describes the history and technology of the technique for hiding information, known as steganography.
A group of science advocates say the American president should have the basic scientific know-how to understand policy challenges, evaluate options and devise solutions. Ira Flatow and guests discuss how a presidential science debate can help voters decide if a candidate is up for the job.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If the polls are a good indicator, the economy, jobs, the deficit, health care and education are likely to be the issues that weigh heavily on voters' minds when they head to the polls in November. But researchers say there may be another factor that influences the presidential vote this election cycle, and that's racial attitudes.
A new four-part documentary airing on HBO next week looks at America's growing weight problem. John Hoffman, vice president of HBO Documentary Films and executive producer of The Weight Of The Nation, describes his three year-project to document the causes and effects of being overweight and obese in America.
When members of a travel soccer team in Oregon fell ill last year, the details of how the disease spread through the team were mysterious. Kimberly Repp, an epidemiologist in Washington County, Oregon, describes the medical detective work that led epidemiologists through the chain of transmission of the norovirus.
The Garbage-Men is a band of high school-aged musicians who play instruments made out of recycled cereal boxes, buckets, and other materials they've rescued from the trash. Guitarist Jack Berry and drummer Ollie Gray talk about the band and their signature "trashy" sound.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. To all appearances, Chris and Lisa Faris seemed to have it all together. He rose through the ranks of the U.S. Special Operations Command to become its top enlisted man, command sergeant major, and his wife tended to their family and many others on his long deployments.
Aid work is often seen as tough, but rewarding. In a recent blog post, Quinn Zimmerman offered a more nuanced take on his work in Haiti. He wrote about his frustrations with locals, fellow aid workers, and himself, for expecting something more than the reality on the ground could deliver.