The Colossal Consequences of Super Volcanoes
Apr01

The Colossal Consequences of Super Volcanoes

Level: Intermediate and above Time for completion: 15 + min   Summary In 1816, Europe and North America were plagued by heavy rains, odd-colored snow, famines, strange fogs, and very cold weather well into June. Though many people believed it to be the apocalypse, this “year without a summer” was actually the result of a supervolcano eruption that happened one year earlier over 1,000 miles away. Alex Gendler describes...

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Why Should You Listen to Vivaldi?
Mar18

Why Should You Listen to Vivaldi?

Level: Intermediate Time for completion: 20 + min   Why should you listen to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”? Light, bright, and cheerful, “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi is some of the most familiar of all early 18th century music, and is featured in numerous films and television commercials. But what is its significance, and why does it sound that way? Betsy Schwarm uncovers the underlying narrative of...

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How Playing an Instrument Benefits your Brain
Feb06

How Playing an Instrument Benefits your Brain

Level: pre intermediate and above Time of completion: 20+ min   Introduction When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of...

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Have you ever wondered why we yawn?
Jan11

Have you ever wondered why we yawn?

Level: intermediate and above Time of completion:  10+ min   Introduction *Yaaawwwwwn* Did just reading the word make you feel like yawning yourself? Known as contagious yawning, the reasons behind this phenomenon have been attributed to both the physiological and psychological. It’s been observed in children as young as four and even in dogs! Claudia Aguirre visits the many intriguing theories that might explain contagious...

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