August 2008

A Musical Bridge to China (August 2 - 8)

What do you get when you combine 150 singers from five American choral groups with an 55-piece/member Chinese orchestra and put them under the direction of Virginia Commonwealth University conductor John Guthmiller? Answer: a musical tribute to the 2008 Beijing Olympics that deeply moved the Chinese audiences who heard it as well as Guthmiller, himself. Also: in light of the continuing controversy surrounding China’s human rights practices and recent calls to boycott the Olympics, Ming Wan (George Mason University) says while the western world should be concerned about China’s policies, we also need to realize that China is a very complicated county undergoing a massive social, physical and economic transformation.

WGR News Feature: In the mid-19th century, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote that "music is the universal language of mankind."  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," found a Virginia orchestra conductor whose recent trip to China confirms the timelessness of Longfellow's observation. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

What's Your Best Guess? (August 9 – 15)

Have you ever wondered just how big your feet would need to be to allow you to walk on water, or how about the amount of time lost in a person’s life for every cigarette smoked? Physicist Lawrence Weinstein (Old Dominion University) answers these brain teasers and many others by using a process called “guesstimation.” Also: David Wright (Tidewater Community College) uses some of the gravity-defying rides at Busch Gardens amusement park to teach the principles of physics. He says an understanding of basic physics helps make sense of the world around us.

WGR News Feature: What are your real chances of winning the lottery?  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," found a Virginia physicist who can shed some light on those really, really big numbers. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

Sisters of Mercy (August 16 - 22)

The contributions that Irish nuns made to help destitute immigrant Catholic children in New York City were instrumental in developing modern American social institutions like foster care and welfare. Maureen Fitzgerald (College of William and Mary) says before the nuns aided these children, they were being sent to live with Protestant families outside NYC, often never seeing their parents again. Also: Cindy Hahamovitch (College of William and Mary) compares the history and experience of guest workers in the United States to other countries.

WGR News Feature: The foster care system can trace its roots back to 19th century America when thousands of hungry children were roaming the streets of big East Coast cities.  Nancy King, with the radio program “With Good Reason,” says some of these kids ended up in Virginia. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

Autism in Contemporary Literature, Film – and Life (August 23 - 29)

One in every 150 American-born children is diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder. Christofer Foss (University of Mary Washington) has examined how autism is portrayed in contemporary literature and film and says it is time to re-think difference, dignity, discrimination, and other disability issues. Also: Nicole Myers (University of Mary Washington) says with proper training, teachers can make significant strides with high-functioning autistic children in the mainstream classroom. And: producer Nancy King visits a Charlottesville family who is building a special “therapy room” to meet the challenge of their young son who has autism.

WGR News Feature: One-and-a-half million American families have a child diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder.  In Charlottesville, one couple is embarking on a new therapy program and a construction project to meet the challenges of their young son.  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," paid a visit to the home of Josh Friedman and Mira Levine. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

Children Seen and Heard (August 30 - September 5 )

Historians have long held that children of 17 th and 18 th century Europe were thought of as incomplete adults who were not yet worthy of love or compassion. However, historian Michael Galgano (James Madison University) says actually children were understood to be in a different stage of life, and they were celebrated and loved.

Also: Elementary school teachers may want to encourage a noisier classroom this fall. Adam Winsler’s (George Mason University) recent research shows that 5-year-olds perform better on motor tasks when they talk to themselves out loud than when they are silent.

Also: Infants come into the world equipped with an enormous capacity to trust, which is essential to rapid learning. Vikran Jaswal University of Virginia) says part of the challenge of childhood is learning when to question. Through his work with hundreds of young children he is looking for the origins of this struggle.

WGR News Feature: Parents and teachers shouldn't worry when pre-schoolers talk to themselves; in fact, they should encourage it.  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," has more on chatty children. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.