Back-To-School Health Concerns, Artemis Moon Mission, Designing A Better Lanternfly Trap. August 19, 2022, Part 2


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Teen Innovator’s New AI Tool Helps Create Affordable Drugs

The U.S. has some of the highest prescription drug prices in the world, which can push patients into bankruptcy over medications they cannot afford. More than three in four American adults think the prices of prescription drugs are unaffordable, prompting the Senate to recently pass a bill intended to help lower prescription drug costs for seniors.

One young innovator set out to find his own solution. 17 year-old Rishab Jain developed ICOR, a tool to improve the rapid production of drugs like COVID-19 vaccines. Ira talks with Jain from Portland, Oregon, about his innovation and vision for the future.

When Trapping Invasive Bugs Is Science Homework

The spotted lanternfly, an invasive species, was first introduced to the U.S. in Pennsylvania, around 2014. Since then, it has spread aggressively, and has now been spotted in 11 states. The bug is pretty—adult spotted lanternflies are about an inch long, and feature striking spotted forewings and a flashy red patch on the hindwings. But they are also very hungry, and pose a significant threat to agricultural crops, including grapevines.

Many control efforts have focused on either stomping the insects on sight, or on spotting and destroying the egg masses that the lanternflies lay in the fall. However, researchers have been developing trapping techniques for the bugs as well. One, involving a sticky band looped around a tree, is effective—but can also snare other insects and even birds. Experts at the Penn State Extension have come up with a new style of circle trap for lanternflies, based upon an existing trap for pecan weevils. Now, STEM educators at Rutgers University are using that design as the starting point for an engineering design challenge, asking K-12 teachers and students to come up with improvements to the design. Read the rest at

Should Kids Get Vaccinated If They’ve Already Had COVID-19?

It’s nearing the end of August, which means it’s back-to-school season. There’s a big difference between this school year and last: All children are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This means the risk of disease will likely be way down, compared to the past two autumns, according to vaccine researcher and pediatrician Paul Offit.

But for kids who have already been infected by COVID-19, will the vaccine add meaningful immunity?

“My answer to that question is yes,” Dr. Offit tells Ira. “Then you can be sure that they will then develop the kind of immunity that will likely lead to fairly long-lived protection against serious illness.” Ira and Dr. Offit also discuss the risk of monkeypox and polio spreading in schools, and how to best keep our kids safe against infectious disease this fall.

The Countdown Begins For Humanity’s Return To The Moon

NASA’s largest and most powerful rocket ever began inching its way to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday night. Over twelve years in the making, the long-delayed, over-budget Space Launch System rocket is finally nearing its first chance for liftoff at the end of this month. The August 29th targeted launch will mark the beginning of the Artemis program—NASA’s series of missions designed to send humans to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

The multi-billion dollar orange rocket now stands taller than the Statue of Liberty, resembling a colossal upside-down carrot. Its maiden uncrewed flight will carry a trio of mannequins equipped with radiation sensor vests in preparation for crewed flights slated for 2024. These future missions will be the first to return people to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. Read the rest at

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on