AMERICAN MOSAIC - Jessi Alexander's First Album / Weather in America / Top High School Scientists
By Nancy Steinbach
Broadcast: Friday, March 18, 2005
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week: Music by Jessi Alexander … A question from a listener about the weather in America ... And a report on some top scientists who are still in high school.
Intel Science Talent Search
Earlier this week, the Intel company announced the winners of its yearly Science Talent Search. Each winner receives a new computer and money for a college education. The top winner this year was David Bauer from New York City. His project concerned finding poisonous agents that affect the nervous system. Faith Lapidus tells us about the competition.
The Science Talent Search is the oldest such program for high school students in the United States. An organization called Science Service created the competition in nineteen forty-two. The aim was to increase the number of young Americans choosing to work in science.
Since then, the competition has provided more than two thousand young people with awards and money for college. Past winners have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes, the National Medal of Science, MacArthur Foundation fellowships and other top honors. The Westinghouse Company led the competition until nineteen ninety-eight. Then Intel became the organizer.
Each year, about one thousand six hundred American high school students enter scientific research projects for the competition. The projects involve nearly every area of science. They include chemistry, physics, medicine, mathematics, engineering, computer science and social science.
The top three hundred projects are named semi-finalists. Then the list is reduced to forty finalists. These students travel to Washington, D.C., for a week-long competition. A group of well-known scientists judge them on their research abilities, critical thinking skills and creativity. The judges ask the students questions before deciding on the winners.
The entries this year included projects on developing new energy technologies, improving cancer treatments and creating new tissue to heal wounds.
Organizers of the Intel Science Talent Search say the young scientists also have other interests. Eighty percent of the finalists this year play a musical instrument. And forty-seven percent can speak a language other than English. The group this year also included an award-winning poet, a competitive ballroom dancer and a table tennis winner in the Junior Olympics.
Time to answer a question. A listener in Moscow named Daut asks about the weather in the United States.
The United States is one of the biggest countries in the world. It has all sorts of geography, from deserts to beaches, mountains to flatlands. These conditions help create all sorts of weather: mild, moderate and extreme. Sometimes all in one day!
In the summer, some areas get very hot and the air is very wet. But others have dry air, so the heat does not feel so bad.
In the winter, parts of the country get cold and snowy while others stay warm and sunny. This is the difference between, for example, New York City on the East Coast and Los Angeles on the West Coast. Yet even the East Coast has its warm places in winter, like Florida.
The oceans affect weather along the coasts. The Pacific coast has smaller temperature changes, and calmer conditions, than along the Atlantic.
Alaska and Hawaii are the only states not connected to the forty-eight mainland states. Alaska is in the Arctic area, so it gets very cold. Hawaii, out in the Pacific, is warm all year long.
Weather in the central and northeastern parts of the country is affected by cold air from Canada and warm air from the Caribbean. Conditions can change quickly.
Hurricanes are ocean storms that strike mainly in the Southeast. The hurricane season is, officially, June through November. Tornadoes are a risk across the country. These are locally severe windstorms. They generally happen in the spring and summer.
In fact, March eighteenth happens to be the eightieth anniversary of the most deadly tornado in United States history. The nineteen twenty-five "Tri-State Tornado" hit parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The National Weather Service says almost seven hundred people were killed.
The weather service says the United States gets more severe weather than any other country. In the Midwest, the state of Michigan next week will observe Severe Weather Awareness Week.
You know, we do not mean to scare you with all this talk about bad weather. The country also has lots of really nice weather. If you ever plan a trip to the United States, just be sure to read the local weather reports. That way you can come prepared for whatever the weather may bring.
Singer Jessi Alexander has just released her first album. Barbara Klein has the details.
Jessi Alexander was born in the Southern state of Tennessee. Her parents ended their marriage when she was young. She spent her summers in Memphis with her father, a part-time musician. She loved country music from the South, but also folk and rock from the West Coast.
Jessi was a teenager when she learned to play guitar. She left college and moved to Nashville. She began to write songs with local musicians. The result is the album "Honeysuckle Sweet."
One of the songs was written the day after the shootings by two students at Columbine High School in Colorado in nineteen ninety-nine. The song is called "This World Is Crazy."
Another song on "Honeysuckle Sweet" is called "Reasons to Run." Jessi Alexander says this is the closest she has ever gotten to a "happy" love song.
Jessi Alexander says she named the album with the two words she could find to describe her summers as a child on the Tennessee River. We leave you with the title song from "Honeysuckle Sweet."
HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program. Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. And our engineer was Kevin Raiman. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.