July 04, 2015 21:16 UTC

American Mosaic

A First for Girls in This Year's Siemens Math and Science Competition

Also: A question from Burma about the White House.  And music from the latest album by Melissa Etheridge. <em>Transcript of radio broadcast:</em>

HOST:

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

(MUSIC)

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We listen to some music from Melissa Etheridge …

Answer a question about the White House …

And tell about the results of a recent high school science competition.

Siemens Competition

HOST:

Last week, the Siemens Foundation announced the winners of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Competition for high school students. The foundation created the competition nine years ago to improve student performance in math and science in the United States.  It is open to any student who is a citizen or legal resident. Barbara Klein has more.

BARBARA KLEIN:

This year was a first in the history of the Siemens Competition.  It was the first time females won the top prizes in both the individual and team competitions.

The individual winner was Isha Jain of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She received one hundred thousand dollars toward her college education for her research into bone growth.  The Siemens judges said she is the first to discover that bone growth takes place in many different short periods of time. They said her work was equal to that of a graduate student in college.

The top team winners were Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff of Plainview, New York. They are sharing one hundred thousand dollars for their college educations.  They did research on the disease tuberculosis. They created a molecule that helps block drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria from reproducing.  The contest judges said the students created new compounds to kill tuberculosis by targeting a protein that could lead to a new treatment for drug-resistant TB.

The Siemens Foundation joined with the College Board and six universities to start the competition.  The Siemens Foundation president says the number of girls entering the contest has increased each year.  This year, more than one thousand six hundred students took part. Forty-eight percent were female. 

Experts from the universities judge competitions in six areas of the country.  The individual and team winners from those contests then compete nationally.  They demonstrate their projects to a group of university professors and scientists.  This year, the judges were led by Joseph Taylor, a winner of the Nobel Prize in physics. 

As part of their prize, the winning students will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in February.

The White House

HOST:

Our listener question this week comes from Burma. Tharr Naing wants to know about the White House, the home of the President of the United States and his family. This famous building is at sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Avenue, in the center of Washington, D.C.

The first American President, George Washington, worked with the city planner Pierre L’Enfant to choose the land for the new presidential home. A competition was held to find a building designer. Nine plans were considered, and the architect James Hoban won.

Construction began in seventeen ninety-two. The first president to live there was John Adams. He and his wife Abigail moved into the White House in eighteen hundred.

During the war of eighteen twelve, British troops burned most of the inside of the White House. James Hoban helped rebuild it. Over the years, each president has made changes or additions to the building. For example, the north portico area of the building was added under President Andrew Jackson. Presidents also changed the furniture inside to show current styles.

The White House walls are made of stone that is painted white. But the famous building has had other names over time, including the President’s House and the Executive Mansion.  In the early nineteen hundreds, President Theodore Roosevelt made the White House the official name.

In the nineteen thirties, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to rebuild and expand part of the building that became known as the West Wing. Some of the public rooms in the White House are named after a color. There is the Blue Room, the Green Room and the Red Room.

In December, the White House becomes filled with holiday decorations, based on a theme.  The subject of the Christmas tree decorations this year is National Parks. First lady Laura Bush thought of the idea because she hikes in the parks throughout the year. She says that the White House sent a Christmas tree decoration to each of America’s more than three hundred national parks. Different artists painted each ornament in a way to celebrate that national park.  To see pictures of these holiday decorations, you can visit www dot white house dot gov.

Melissa Etheridge

HOST:

Melissa Etheridge has been making rock music for twenty years. This award-winning performer recently released her ninth album called “The Awakening.”  It is Etheridge's first record since she discovered she had cancer in two thousand four. The songs express the story of her life and her spiritual sense of awakening after overcoming her sickness. Katherine Cole has more.

(MUSIC)

KATHERINE COLE:

That was “California,” one of the first songs on the album. It tells how Melissa Etheridge left her home and family in the state of Kansas to follow her dreams of fame in California. Etheridge has said that she hopes listeners will take time out of their busy days to listen to her album from beginning to end. She says the songs tell a universal story about her political and spiritual beliefs and discoveries. The main influence for the album was her cancer. Melissa Etheridge believes the cancer gave her a new power and fearlessness.

Here is the song “I’ve Loved You Before.” Etheridge imagines how she and the person she loves have searched for and found each other in past lives.

(MUSIC)

Melissa Etheridge is also known for her interest in social activism. She strongly supports the environmental “green” movement. She wrote the song “I Want to Wake Up” for former Vice President Al Gore’s movie on climate change called “An Inconvenient Truth.”  She also supports rights for people in same-sex relationships.

And, in several songs on “The Awakening”, Etheridge expresses her political beliefs. We leave you with “Imagine That.”  In it, Melissa Etheridge criticizes the United States government’s policy over the war in Iraq. She praises the activist Cindy Sheehan whose son was killed in the war.

(MUSIC)

HOST:

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Dana Demange and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. 

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English. 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 1, 2015.

    Video US, Cuban Embassies to Reopen

    The move ends more than 50 years of tensions between the two countries. Many countries, groups support the decision by President Obama. But the US Congress could refuse to provide money to open an American embassy in Havana. | In The News More

  • Blue Point Oysters from New York's Great South Bay

    Video Oysters Return to New York’s Great South Bay

    The Blue Point oyster is returning to the Great South Bay of New York after almost disappearing from the world marketplace. Over-farming, pollution and Hurricane Sandy had severely damaged the Blue Point oyster business. Now, the population is growing in its home on the coast of Long Island. More

  • People-Lewis Black

    Video Summer 2015 Brings Movies for Toddlers to Teens

    A girl's emotions star in 'Inside Out,' an animation from Pixar. 'Minions' is the story of the little yellow creatures from the 'Despicable Me' series. Don't like cartoon movies? Try "Paper Towns' based on a John Green book or 'Ricki and the Flash' starring Meryl Streep and daughter Maggie Gummer. More

  • Nigeria disabled people making tricycles for others with disabilities

    Video Nigerian Group Provides Training For People with Disability

    In Nigeria, about 20 million people have some kind of physical disability. They have physical problems that make it difficult to find work and hold a job. Some of the disabled end up on city streets, asking strangers for help. But in Kaduna, a group of disabled men has been teaching them work skills More

  • Video France's 'Freedom Frigate' to Celebrate 4th of July

    A warship from France that came to the United States 235 years ago became a sign of friendship between the two countries. The French ship traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to help defeat the British during the American revolutionary war. Now a full-scale replica has been making that same trip. More

Featured Stories

  • People-Lewis Black

    Video Summer 2015 Brings Movies for Toddlers to Teens

    A girl's emotions star in 'Inside Out,' an animation from Pixar. 'Minions' is the story of the little yellow creatures from the 'Despicable Me' series. Don't like cartoon movies? Try "Paper Towns' based on a John Green book or 'Ricki and the Flash' starring Meryl Streep and daughter Maggie Gummer. More

  • Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Audio Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Some common mistakes in English happen when speakers confuse adjectives and adverbs. And some adverbs look the same but have opposite meanings. Do not fear, the Everyday Grammar expert is here to sort it all out for you. Learn why -ly usually (but not always) tells you a word is an adverb. More

  • Audio Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About the 4th of July

    Sure, you know Americans celebrate their Independence Day on the fourth day of July. But do you know they have the wrong date? Or where they get all those fireworks? Hint: not from the UK. More

  • Audio Independence Day

    Independence Day is a huge celebration in the United States. People celebrate by having parades and picnics and usually end the day with fireworks. So what do some of these words mean? More

  • Video The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien, Part One

    This story by a little-known American writer tells of a young man with a strong desire. He wants to learn how to use a microscope to see a tiny world. He tries to talk with a ghost to learn a secret from the inventor of the microscope. What will happen when he tries to build his own microscope? More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs