December 23, 2014 03:43 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

  • Audio Reports Say North Korea Hit by Huge Internet Outage

    North Korea appears to be experiencing a widespread Internet outage. Hours earlier, The U.S. warned it would answer a computer attack against Sony Pictures. U.S. investigators blamed that hack job on North Korea. Sony canceled the release of a disputed humor film about North Korea's leader. More

  • Investigators work at the scene where two NYPD officers were shot in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York, Dec. 20, 2014.

    Audio Man Who Shot NY Police Officers Had Record of Violence, Mental Illness

    A top New York City police official says the man who killed two officers Saturday had a record of violence and mental problems. Ismayyil Brinsley shot officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in their police car in the Brooklyn, New York. He then shot and killed himself at a nearby train station. More

  • Word of the Year

    Audio What’s the Word of the Year?

    The American English dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster announces their word of the year for 2014. The publisher bases its choice on how many people look up the word in its online dictionary. Many search for these words after major news events or stories on entertainment and sports. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

Featured Stories

  • Nuclear fusion display at the Weiss Energy Hall, Houston Museum of Natural Science

    Audio Is a Fusion Nuclear Reactor Coming Soon?

    The United States technological organization Lockheed Martin says it will produce a working fusion nuclear reactor within five years. Lockheed Martin says it may have an operating prototype by 2017, and a version for sale by 2022. Fusion involves forcing together atomic nuclei. More

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs