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City of Madison Hires Local Journalist for Newly-Created Communications Manager Position

by Jules Da Costa, age 16

Local journalist Dylan Brogan was recently named the City of Madison’s new communications manager, a newly created position.

The new position was approved by the Madison Common Council in the 2024 budget. City officials say they created the job to support and better facilitate outreach to the public. They also hope to keep residents better informed about local government.

Brogan will oversee planning, organizing, and coordinating communications and will focus on reaching underrepresented residents, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. [Read More]

Wisconsin Joins Lawsuit Accusing Meta of Harming Children's Mental Health

by Kelly Vazquez, age 18

The state of Wisconsin joined a lawsuit in October against Meta, along with 33 other states, alleging that the company’s apps harm children’s mental health. Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, is a technology company that has created applications that have found massive success, such as Instagram and Facebook, which have three billion and 1.35 billion active users, respectively. But the company has also found itself in hot water multiple times.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul joined forces with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from multiple states in a legal action filed in federal court in California. The lawsuit claims that Meta has deployed addictive features that negatively impact the mental health of young individuals, and contribute to the mental health crisis among the nation's youth. Additionally, the lawsuit says that Meta has violated federal law by regularly collecting data from children under the age of 13 without obtaining their parents' consent.

In a statement, Kaul expressed the importance of keeping children safe online. He explained, “Adequate protections should be in place to protect kids from harms associated with social media, and parents must receive accurate information about potential dangers to their kids.” [Read More]

Wisconsin Among the States Rejecting $10.5 Billion PFAS Settlement with 3M Company

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Attorneys General from 22 states, including Wisconsin, are denouncing a proposed lawsuit settlement that they argue would absolve manufacturing giant 3M from responsibility for the widespread contamination of water supplies with hazardous 'forever chemicals.'

The landmark $10.5 billion agreement aims to fund chemical testing and the installation of water filtration systems over three years. However, 3M doesn’t admit liability. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, have been found in aqueous firefighting foam and are by-products of numerous manufacturing processes. These persistent chemicals have been linked to various health issues, including cancer and reduced birth rates.

The settlement reached in June was initially perceived as a victory for public well-being. However, under an indemnification clause, the agreement could shift blame to water utilities, and require them to pay some of the $10.5 billion. [Read More]

NBC-15's John Stofflet Retires After Four Decades: A Legacy of Award-Winning Journalism and Global Reporting

by Hanna Eyobed, age 18

NBC-15’s John Stofflet recently announced his retirement after a four-decade career. His accolades include: being a 25-time regional Emmy award winner, reporting in 40 countries around the globe, and interviewing 44th President Barack Obama.

Stofflet graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a major in Journalism and Mass Communications. After some time, he started reporting at KING-TV (NBC) in Seattle and working as a freelance correspondent for the National Geographic channel. After 16 years, in May of 2005, he gladly accepted a position to anchor and report for NBC-15 in his home state of Wisconsin.

His work in taking on exciting stories and establishing his writing was commemorated in a recent interview where Sofflet highlighted one of his favorite pastimes. [Read More]

New Reports Show Wider Achievement Gaps After Pandemic

by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 16

Reports showing achievement gaps widened after students moved from in-person instruction to online learning are no surprise. Virtual instruction caused learning loss in thousands of school districts across the nation.

The switch from in-person instruction to online learning produced negative results in student achievement. Several factors—including the disruption of school schedules, remote learning, social isolation, and health or family-related stress—have contributed to a reduction in math and reading test scores. Researchers report that low test scores are an unsettling prediction for the future.

Research released in January by The Brookings Institution shows the academic achievement gap widening. Brookings used math and reading test scores from the previous two years. They examined data from 5.4 million U.S. students in third through eighth grade. Among those 5.4 million students, math and reading scores were lower than in previous years. [Read More]

Journalists Criticize Madison School District Handling of Open Records

by Yoanna Hoskins, age 17

The second largest school district in Wisconsin, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), which houses 52 schools and over 27,000 students, has been a hot topic of discussion in recent months. And not for good reasons.

In recent news reports, many members of the Madison community have come forward with stories about how MMSD hasn’t properly responded to open records requests. Specifically, journalists and community members who have submitted open records requests have yet to receive access to those public documents.

NBC15 Investigates has waited months for requested data. On the 9th of March 2022, they sent an email to MMSD filing an open records request. This request related to student conflicts at Madison East High School, student-led walkouts, and the subsequent reassignment of East’s principal to the central office. [Read More]

Science Fiction Writer, Octavia Butler, Recognized by NASA

by Elim Eyobed, age 11

Who is your favorite writer? Hemingway? Shakespeare? Well, one great writer you may have never heard of is Octavia E. Butler. Butler was an esteemed African American author who was recently recognized by NASA for her groundbreaking talents. NASA scientists even named a Mars landing site after her.

Butler was raised by her mother and grandmother and was extremely shy as a child. When she was 12 years old, Butler started to read fantasy books, and later wrote science fiction when she was a teenager. The science fiction she wrote helped make her a very strong writer. In fact, she became such a powerful writer that her books won the New York Times Notable Book of the Year award, The Nebula award for the best science fiction novel published in that year, and the Macarthur Genius Grant.

During the 1960’s, Butler attended college at Pasadena City College, California State University, and the University of California. She wasn't a good student in particular, but an avid one. While in Washington, Butler participated in the Black Power movement. She became familiar with The Clarion West Workshop, which was a well-known place for writers. [Read More]

Open Meetings Violation Complaint Filed Against Belleville

by Sydney Steidl, age 16

A concerned citizen has accused the Village of Belleville of illegally meeting behind closed doors to consider and approve the sale of the Village’s former library in violation of the State’s Open Meetings Laws. The complaint, filed with the Dane County District Attorney’s office in early August, contained 10 separate allegations of open meetings violations.

The sale of the 6,300-square-foot building to a developer for $20,000 was approved as a result of closed meetings, despite the building being appraised at $210,000 only a year ago. This substantial difference has led many local residents to wonder what happened during the meetings and question the integrity of the deal.

One citizen, Jeff Larson, said he believes that other potential buyers would have offered more favorable terms for the library, and that this sale was not in the public’s best interest. “If the board believes this is such a great deal for the Village and its residents, why did it work so hard to hide information and prevent the public from sharing any input until after the decision was already made?” Larson said. [Read More]

Declining Newspaper Subscriptions Hamper Good Journalism

by Sydney Steidl, age 16

News collecting and reporting has changed a lot in the 21st century. American newspapers laid off at least 45% of newsroom staff between 2008 and 2017. About 1,800 print news outlets shut down between 2004 and 2015. It’s an overlooked crisis in modern American news, one that’s resulted in a massive loss of local news outlets.

The general shift to news distribution through the internet makes information more accessible. But it has also contributed to a downward spiral for journalism.

Over the years, consumers have grown to accept news as a free resource because most online outlets don’t require users to pay before reading an article. This has decreased the value of news in the public’s mind, and it is now considered abnormal to pay for news. Ultimately, this leads to news outlet shutdowns and fired news staff. [Read More]

Why Writing by Hand Is Better for Memory and Learning

by Camila Cruz, age 16

There’s been evidence for years that it’s better to take notes by handwriting than typing. New research is finally giving us an answer as to why.

Handwriting uses more regions of your brain and builds connections between physical and visual parts of the brain. That makes it easier to learn and pay attention, according to a recent study in Frontiers in Psychology by Audrey van de Meer and Ruud van der Weel at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The two researchers dove into the intricate workings of the brain during note-taking by using helmets with sensors to monitor students' brains. The research builds on a study from 2014, which hinted at the lower effort of typing notes on a computer as compared to handwritten notes. Van de Meer and van der Weel found that handwriting produces higher levels of electrical activity across interconnected brain regions responsible for sensory processing, movement, memory, and vision. On the other hand, typing led to minimal activity in these areas. [Read More]

International Wood Sculpture Festival Honors the Legacy of Harry Whitehorse

By Elim Eyobed, age 13

A festival in honor of Harry Whitehorse, a late Ho-Chunk sculptor from Wisconsin, brought people from all over the world to our backyard. A group of Simpson Street Free Press reporters attended the event and watched some of the world's best woodcarvers create their masterpieces in real time.

The Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival was a week-long event showcasing woodcarving styles from various cultures. The festival took place at San Damiano Park in Monona, from June 14-22.

A semicircle of tents greeted guests arriving at the festival. The tents, which were designed based on traditional Ho-Chunk homes that used to be on the property, housed the artists in residence. In front of their respective work stations stood each artist’s national flag. [Read More]

Theater Review: “What the Constitution Means to Me”

By Camila Cruz, age 16

Forward Theater’s production of “What the Constitution Means to Me,” directed by Jen Uphoff Gray, captures audiences with its unique approach to considering the United States Constitution.

Leading actress Colleen Madden of American Players Theater portrays playwright and protagonist Heidi Schreck in this autobiographical play. Madden opens the play by introducing herself as Heidi Schreck and explaining her connection to the Constitution. As a high schooler, Schreck competed in constitutional speech and debate contests, for which she earned college scholarships. At age 15, Schreck loved the Constitution and its study, and she felt deeply inspired by this “living document.”

The first part of the play revolves around 50-year-old Schreck “recreating” one of her high school competitions. She acts like her polite and invigorated 15-year-old self. But she also pauses her reenactment to comment on how her understanding of amendments and clauses has deepened through time and experience. [Read More]

Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy Used Fear and Intimidation to Hunt Communists and Subvert Civil Liberties

by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 15

Joseph McCarthy was one of the most controversial politicians in American history. He served as a Republican Senator from Wisconsin, from when he was first elected in 1947 until his death in 1957. He is known for declaring that communist spies and sympathizers had penetrated the U.S. federal government and for launching anti-communist investigations that polarized the country.

The events that took place after World War II convinced many Americans that the “Red menace” was real. For example, in 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. In the same year, communists declared victory in the Chinese Civil War. And in 1950, Soviet-backed forces in North Korea invaded their pro-Western neighbors in the South starting the bitter Korean War. The United States quickly joined the fight on the side of the South Koreans. [Read More]

Nellie Bly Trailblazed a New Kind of Investigative Journalism

by Cataleya Garcia Fox, age 11

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, also known as Nellie Bly, was a journalist and record-setter who traveled around the world.

She was born in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania, on May 5, 1864. Bly grew up with her older brothers and parents, who loved her very much. Unfortunately, her father passed away when she was six. Her family needed money, which led her to work more often. Bly truly wanted to teach but had to drop out of school to provide for her family.

When Bly was 16, she started reading an article in the Pittsburgh newspaper that described women as helpless and pathetic. The article shocked and offended her. She was not afraid to show that she had her rights. Thus, Bly wrote a letter to the editor expressing her thoughts and detailing how the article was offensive to women. The editor was impressed by Bly’s confidence; in fact, he wrote back, offering her a job. [Read More]

Remembering Lou Conter: The Last Survivor of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor

by Max Moreno, age 11

The devastating events of Pearl Harbor took the lives of many. After the tragic event, survivors of the attack recounted their experiences. Unfortunately, the last living survivor of the attack passed away in early April 2024, at the age of 102.

Lou Conter was born in Ojibwe, Wisconsin, on Sept. 13, 1921, and was a quartermaster in the Navy. He was standing on the main deck of the USS Arizona battleship when Japanese planes flew over and bombed the ship. The explosion lifted the ship 30 feet out of the water as one million pounds of gunpowder stored below the ship were set off. Everything was on fire. “Guys were running out of the fire trying to jump over the sides and oil all over the sea was burning,’’ Conter said. In his autobiography “The Lou Conter Story”, Counter describes how he joined other survivors in battle and aided those that were injured. The sailors only abandoned ships if the senior surviving officer was certain that everyone alive was rescued. The USS Arizona wreckage still lies where it sank with remains of more than 900 sailors and Marines inside.

After Pearl Harbor, Corner went to flight school where he flew patrol bombers looking for submarines and enemy targets. He flew 200 combat missions in the Pacific. In the 1950s he was made the Navy’s first SERE officer, which stands for survival, evasion, resistance and escape. He spent the next ten years training Navy pilots and crew to survive if they were ever captured as prisoners of war. After 28 years in the Navy, Conter retired. In 2019, when he was 98 years old, he said he liked going to ceremonies that honor the people who died in the attack. “It's always good to come back and pay respect to them and give them the top honors that they deserve,’’ he said. [Read More]

Marquette's Oso Ighodaro Named BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete

by Jules Da Costa, age 15

Marquette University basketball player Oso Ighodaro has recently been named the Big East conference’s scholar-athlete, a first in Marquette history.

Ighodaro will graduate with two degrees in four years. The Marquette senior earned a finance degree in three years and is working towards a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which he will complete in the summer. In these four years, he has managed to maintain a 3.54-grade point average. The conference’s Academic Affairs Committee voted to give Ighodaro the award and will grant him a $2,000 scholarship for graduate or professional studies.

Ighodaro also succeeded this season, earning all-Big East second-team honors. The 6-foot-11 forward averages 14.4 points and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per game. Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said he is “incredibly proud” and that “it’s a well-deserved award.” Ighodaro said, “I think it’s cool to show that I can do my best at both.” [Read More]

Dane County Plans Solar Project at Former Landfill in Verona

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 16

Dane County is looking for help developing a solar energy project located near a former landfill in Verona. The site is on land owned by the county.

Dane County plans to install a solar array in the landfill near a site that includes a nursing home, food pantry, and a food service facility.

During the 1990s, natural gas methane from the landfill was used to generate large amounts of electricity. But today, the methane is declining prompting officials to find a better way to repurpose the area. [Read More]

Wisconsin Passes $125 Million Bill to Address PFAS Contamination

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 17

Dangerous artificial chemicals like PFAS have polluted Wisconsin’s waters and towns for decades. The Wisconsin State Assembly recently passed a $125 million bill to control and test for PFAS contamination in groundwater across the state, yet it could also exempt polluters from liability.

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are synthetic chemicals in many industry and consumer items, including cookware and water-resistant products. These chemicals are difficult to remove from nature and do not fully decompose. They seep into groundwater and lakes, and ingesting them can lead to a weakened immune system, liver disease, and cancer.

The legislation would offer grants to local governments and private landowners, using $125 million from the state’s budget trust fund to remove PFAS in wells and water treatment plants. Under Wisconsin’s “Spills Law,” anyone who causes or owns a dangerous substance released into the environment must clean it up. However, Democrats say the PFAS bill protects polluters because, in some scenarios, taxpayers would have to clean up the mess. Furthermore, a legislative committee must approve the funding for the legislation before it can help Wisconsinites with contamination. [Read More]

Madison Students Revive Wisconsin History with Modern-Made Birch Bark Canoe

by Camila Cruz, age 16

Students are using modern technology to build a Native American birch bark canoe; in doing so, they're keeping a part of Wisconsin history alive. In a new class offered through a partnership with the local office of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Madison junior high and high school students built a plywood reconstruction of the boats used by Wisconsin tribes for centuries.

Gene Delcourt, a woodshop instructor, directed the class. He learned the skill from a German YouTuber and a master Ojibwe canoe maker. Delcourt previously studied the art of canoe making when he traveled to Lac du Flambeau in 2021 and learned from expert builder Wayne Valliere of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Delcourt had also built three canoes at a Monona alternative school.[Read More]

Edgewood College and Wisconsin National Guard Launch Accelerated Teacher Education Program

by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 18

For almost a decade, our country has struggled with teacher shortages. In hopes of addressing the shortage, in August of 2023, Edgewood College launched the Accelerated Teacher Education Program. Edgewood College has recently expanded the program through a partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard.

The idea behind the Accelerated Teacher Education Program is to recruit and train new teachers. Through the new expansion, Guard members and their spouses can get master’s degrees and state teaching credentials at the reduced cost of $9,750, which is a nearly 50% reduction from the original price of tuition.

The online program can be completed in a year and allows participants to specialize in elementary, secondary, or cross-categorical education. There are eight-week course segments, allowing for five start dates throughout the year. Applicants can start courses as early as this summer. [Read More]

“Hold Me Accountable” – Joe Gothard’s Interview with Simpson Street Free Press

by Cris Cruz and Leila Fletcher

Following an introductory press conference at Thoreau Elementary School, new Madison school superintendent, Joe Gothard, sat down for an exclusive interview with Simpson Street Free Press.

Although superintendent contracts usually begin in July, Dr. Gothard pushed for an earlier start date. He will now start on May 20. Gothard told us he wants extra time to work with interim superintendent Lisa Kvistad and the Madison School Board.

“I know the board, but when you work with a board, you get to know the board differently. I want to establish the way we're going to work together. And already this week it's proven to be a good decision,” Gothard said. [Read More]

Joe Gothard Hosts Inaugural Press Conference

by SSFP Editors

Incoming Madison school superintendent, Joe Gothard, had not spoken to news outlets since his hiring was announced six weeks ago. That changed on Thursday with an in-person press conference at Thoreau Elementary School on the city’s southwest side.

Gothard, whose start date has been moved up to May 20th, answered questions from reporters and students for about an hour. While he has not started the new job yet, Gothard stressed his commitment to Madison.

“It's meaningful for me to return to Madison because Madison is a community that never gave up on me and believed in me at times when I didn't always believe in myself,” he said. “I'm forever grateful for the opportunities I had in our schools working as a staff member.” [Read More]

NCAA Faces Legal Battle Over Name, Image, and Likeness Regulations

by Jules Da Costa, age 15

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been involved in legal battles regarding its name, image, and likeness (NIL) guidelines.

In the ongoing case Tennessee and Virginia v. NCAA, the states want to remove rules regulating players' compensation for their name, image, and likeness. The NCAA is the largest college sports governing body in the US. They earn billions from the revenue their player's NIL brings them. College athletes receive several benefits but are not being compensated for their NIL. The suit claims the NCAA has violated the antitrust laws by denying athletes the ability to earn total compensation. They seek an injunction to do away with the NCAA's NIL rules. Florida-based sports attorney Darren Heitner claims there has been misclassification of athletes and that they should be referred to as employees rather than student-athletes. This lawsuit brings the total number of antitrust lawsuits the NCAA is defending to at least five, three of which also seek employment status for college athletes.

In a statement, the NCAA claims that taking this legal action and suspending the NIL regulations would further encourage what they consider a "wild west atmosphere." The NCAA worries about uneven playing fields between neighboring states and student-athletes being vulnerable to exploitation without the proper safeguards. According to the statement, the association does want to protect NIL rules but is also open to expanding NIL rights and opportunities for its athletes. [Read More]

New Test Results Show Significant Declines in Math and Reading

by Devika Pal, age 17

Virtual learning has led to some of the lowest math and reading scores among elementary and middle school students in more than 30 years, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education. The study showed online learning exacerbated pre-pandemic difficulties for students who were already struggling. Learning losses also disproportionately affected lower-income and minority students.

Educators say this is especially alarming because reading and math are the foundation for all other subjects and predictors of high school success. After 30 years of increasing scores, they plunged.

According to data collected by the education department from the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, math, and reading scores for both 4th and 8th graders have dropped most significantly since 1990. In math, 38% of 8th graders tested below “basic” achievement levels, and 8th-grade reading scores also dropped. Fourth-grade reading had the lowest average score and math scores had their first-ever decline. Black and Hispanic kids had more significant drops than white students. Fourth-grade students who were eligible for free and reduced lunch struggled more than before compared to students who were not eligible. [Read More]

Rapidly Intensifying Hurricanes Could be a Consequence of Climate Change

by Dulce Vazquez, age 15

Throughout several decades, hurricanes have seen a trend of increasing intensity. The increasing strength of hurricanes has led people to be unprepared for their effects.

A thunderstorm that formed on the western coast of Africa turned into Hurricane Lee within a day. Hurricane Lee spun more than 130 km per hour placing the storm at a Category 1. A day later, it came across warm water in the North Atlantic. This doubled its wind speed from 130 km to 260 km per hour.

While Hurricane Lee caught lots of attention, Hurricane Jova reached Category 4, only a day and a half after becoming a named storm. Andra Garner from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, found that recent storms were more than twice as likely to strengthen to a dangerous category of three or higher within a day. The possibility of a weak hurricane becoming strong within a day went from about 3.2% to 8.1%, within a few decades. Multiple elements boost storms' strengths, such as moist air and warm water, says Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University. The world's oceans have become hotter due to global warming, which has implications for the intensifying abilities of these storms. [Read More]

Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula Faces Largest Volcanic Eruption in Decade

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 17

Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula has suffered its fourth and largest volcano eruption of the decade. The signs of volcanic activity started on Dec. 18, 2023, in the town of Grindavik, which is best known for its popular geothermal spa, the Blue Lagoon. Following weeks of thousands of earthquakes before the 18th, Grindavik and nearby towns evacuated more than 4,300 people.

A month before the eruption, a 2.5-mile-long fissure, which is a crack formed underneath the Earth, collected a significant amount of magma (molten rock). On Dec. 18, the opening reached the surface and nearly 150 cubic meters of lava flowed out per second for the first few hours. Heavy clouds of smoke and an orange hue covered the night sky in western Iceland. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the intensity of the eruption and earthquakes weakened by the next day.

Volcanic activity is not unheard of in Iceland, since it is home to 32 active volcanoes, many of them subglacial. Most eruptions take place in unpopulated areas and don’t interfere with any humans. Often, these volcanic sites become tourist attractions. Iceland is also situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where tectonic plates are frequently moving 2.5 cm apart per year. [Read More]

Wisconsin Students Could Return to School in August Under New DPI Proposal

by Jules Da Costa, age 15

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is proposing a policy shift that would allow schools to start before the traditional September 1st date. Current state regulations prevent public schools from starting classes before September 1st. The suggested rule change would modify existing legislation, enacted in 2002.

In recent years, more school districts have sought to start the academic year earlier. In 2023-24, over 100 districts asked to start the school year early. Just two years earlier, only 18 districts submitted such waiver requests.

Some exemptions already exist. School districts can start school early for things like construction projects, unexpected school closures, or transportation issues. The new exemptions proposed by DPI seek to help schools trying to improve attendance and student achievement. Schools offering special support in math and reading might also qualify for an exemption. DPI would also expand the exemption to districts looking to address mental health issues. [Read More]

U.S. Military's PFAS Pollution Threatens Communities Nationwide

by Camila Cruz, age 16

It is hard to imagine that the U.S. military, whose number one goal is to protect, is also one of the biggest contributors to the spread of chemicals that cause cancer, kidney disease, and many other serious health problems.

The military is one of the largest PFAS polluters in the world. PFAS are a group of 15,000 compounds that are used to make stain-, grease- and water-resistant products, making them extremely harmful to humans and animals. PFAS are also called “forever chemicals” because they are nearly indestructible.

PFAS in water is connected to birth defects, high cholesterol, decreased immunity, and much more. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that less than one part per trillion (ppt) is safe to consume in drinking water. However, the levels of PFAS found around military bases have been much higher. [Read More]

New Breed of Supercomputer Aims for the Two Quintillion Mark

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

There is a new type of supercomputer under construction known as an exascale supercomputer. Exascale refers to a supercomputer that can perform two quintillion operations in a second. This drastically compares with a phone which does 17 trillion operations and the human brain which does 228 trillion operations in a second. These computers can help rearrange human life.

One such new supercomputer has been built inside a data center in Aurora, Illinois, near Chicago. The computer, also called Aurora, is located in the Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory. Built by Intel and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aurora is the size of two tennis courts and weighs 600 tons. High-powered machines like Aurora will take months to be fully operational because technicians are always on the lookout for errors, improvements, and changes. Although this process will take a long time, Aurora should be fully operating in 2024.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Frontier was the first working exascale computer and got the title of the world’s most powerful computer. Aurora is not fully operational, tests have shown it is the second-most powerful. Other supercomputers are being built around the world. For example, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is building a $600 million exascale computer named El Capitan, which potentially could be more powerful than Aurora. Another exascale supercomputer called Dojo is being built by Tesla, which spent more than $1 billion. The United Kingdom and other places are trying to create their exclusive supercomputers. [Read More]

March Madness Is the Ultimate NCAA Basketball Showdown

By Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 16

March Madness is one of the most anticipated and most-watched sporting events there is. It is a high-stakes environment with a roaring atmosphere that keeps family, friends, and basketball fans on the edge of their seats.

For the uninitiated, March Madness is a college basketball tournament. It is sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and determines the national champion of college basketball.

The name “March Madness” comes from the annual Illinois High School tournament, the first that used the term “March Madness” to describe its annual championship event. Henry V. Porter, a coach and educator, established the phrase in a 1939 essay for the Illinois Interscholastic magazine. His article was called “March Madness”. [Read More]

Learn About Kendrick Lamar's Legacy in Rap Culture

by Zayn Khalid, age 14

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, also known as Kendrick Lamar or K-Dots, has been on top of the hip-hop/rap podium for 14 years. Kendrick is known for his albums like “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “DAMN”, as well as his lyrical attention and creativity. Most of his music is politically charged and speaks about his upbringing involving gang culture.

Kendrick was born on June 17, 1987, in Compton, California. When he was young, he liked writing poems and stories. Kendrick grew up around a lot of gang culture in his hometown, which he openly writes about in his music. Later, at the age of 16, he started his rap career and went by the name of K-Dots. Kendrick then spread his mixtapes around and gained interest from music companies.

Kendrick’s mixtapes got so much attention that he ended up with a deal from Top Dawg Entertainment. He then released two mixtapes and started working with up-and-coming artists like Jay Rock, AB-Soul, and Schoolboy Q. Kendrick let go of his stage name, K-Dots, and began to use his name in 2010. His first album with Top Dawg Entertainment was “Section.80”, which was exclusively released on iTunes, but can now be found everywhere. Rap legend Dr. Dre took Kendrick under his wing and became his mentor in the music industry. Later, Dr. Dre signed Kendrick to his record label, Aftermath Entertainment, part of Universal Music Group. That put him alongside Eminem and 50 Cent and helped Kendrick take his career to the next level. [Read More]

The Fox River Cleanup, A Battle Against Decades of Pollution

by Sofia Zapata, age 14

The Fox River flows across central and east-central Wisconsin to Green Bay and was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals during the mid-20th century It took almost 17 years to clean the entire river.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, the Fox River began to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, created by seven Fox River Valley paper companies. This chemical compound causes various harmful effects such as cancer and other health conditions. In addition, this substance can cause liver damage, acne-like skin, and neurobehavioral and immunological abnormalities in children.

There were many debates around the cleanup of the Fox River. One of them was about who would pay for the cleanup. Environmental activists said that the seven companies should pay to clean the river because they were the ones who contaminated it. However, the seven companies argued that taxpayers should also have to pay some of the cost. At the end of this argument, everyone decided that the seven paper companies responsible had to pay all the costs with a total estimated $1.3 billion. [Read More]

Understanding the Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Will De Four, age 14

Earth is changing as the icecaps are shrinking, forests are diminishing, and extinction rates are over 100 times greater than in the past millennia. Almost all of these changes are being caused by human activity, and the most destructive is the production of greenhouse gases.

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air today is almost twice as much as there was 1,000 years ago. This shift has not been gradual either, as the largest spike of CO2 has occurred over only the past 150 years. But what has caused this rapid increase, and how can it be stopped?

The sun is what keeps Earth warm, shining on the planet to keep it at a reasonable temperature. Greenhouse gasses are a kind of gate, where light can enter with ease, but is not strong enough to escape once it becomes heat. The gasses that do this can build up, causing the planet to warm drastically. When animals breathe, they take in oxygen and release CO2, while plants do the opposite. This creates a cycle that allows the CO2 to remain at an acceptable rate. When people drive to work, crank up their air conditioning, or produce goods in factories, large amounts of CO2 are added. Humanity has now added too much CO2 for the Earth to handle. [Read More]

Dumb Phones on the Rise as Gen Z Looks to Limit Screen Time

by Allison Torres, age 15

Flip phones became popular in the 1990s and 2000s. At that time, they were a great invention in communicating with people wherever and whenever.

Over the years, phones have advanced technologically, which can be seen in both positive and negative ways. In 2007 smartphones came along, replacing flip phones with iPhones and Androids.

Smartphones have many advanced features like cameras, GPS, and many more applications, that can incorporate your data. This incorporation of personal information concerns people about their data being collected, shared, and used by companies. [Read More]

Wisconsin Trade Exams Now Available in Spanish, Paving the Way for Inclusivity and Opportunity

by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 17

Wisconsin Trade Credentialing Examinations are now offered in Spanish, as of July 11, 2023. This will allow native Spanish speakers to take all trade exams in Spanish, which will eliminate a language barrier to obtaining a credential, and help them achieve a higher earning job.

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services is investing in the expansion of the state’s workforce by creating changes like this, offering people the opportunity to be certified in a trade. The exam will help native Spanish speakers to get one of the state’s 240 professional credentials. Those include plumbing, contracting, electrical work and so much more. Many are excited about this new major advancement as it will allow more Hispanic people to be able to work in different fields.

However, people worry that this new advance will only benefit a few community members because of the following steps after the exam. In the state of Wisconsin, one in five Latinos do not speak English at all or do not speak it well. After entering those higher-level positions, many will struggle to succeed if the only language companies offer is English. Some question whether Wisconsin is creating false hope for people entering a workforce in which their native language is not spoken. [Read More]

New Research Leads to More Fentanyl Testing

by Camila Cruz, age 16

Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 44. However, due to outdated drug testing standards in emergency rooms, fentanyl overdoses are often missed or mistreated.

A nationwide study done by Epic and the University of Maryland-College Park shows that only about five out of 100 emergency departments do a screening test for synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

Just two milligrams of fentanyl, or the equivalent of about 10-15 grains of salt, is enough to be fatal. [Read More]

Concerns Rise as K-12 Test Scores Hit Record Lows

by Jules Da Costa, age 15

K-12 scores fell lower than ever in 2022 according to studies from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The decline in test scores had many causes, but one of the main ones was parental ignorance. Many parents didn’t know how far their child had fallen behind and therefore couldn’t do anything to help. Parents also blamed schools for not informing them of their child’s shortcomings or learning gaps. Studies also found that students who spent more time learning online fell behind further.

COVID-19 left millions of students working and learning from home. When the schools switched to online learning, students who had access to quieter spaces, tutors, and computers were far more likely to excel. Meanwhile, students who lacked resources fell further behind. For these reasons, between 2019 and 2021 math scores dropped by the largest percentages in NAEP’s history. [Read More]

Public Health Officials Issue PFAS Updates for Dane County Fisheries

by Amelia Pearson, age 13

In 2023, there was an updated per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) warning enforced by the Dane County Public Health due to concerns about the 2023 fishing season. PFAS are harmful human-made chemicals that are used in a vast variety of products from firefighting foams to something as simple as fast-food wrapping.

One major concern centers around PFAS found in fish. Due to this, the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) and Department of Health Services (DHS) suggest a limit on the number of certain fish people should consume, such as Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and White Bass, which was recently added to the list. The DNR and DHS recommend only one meal including any of these four types of fish a month.

Due to the outcome of the fish sampling in 2020, the DNR heavily recommended new PFAS-based fish consumption advisories for Yahara Chain waters in Dane and Rock county. There was also a raised level of perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), a type of PFAS found in various species of fish collected in lakes Monona, Kegonsa and Waubesa. [Read More]

Investigators Find Child Labor Violations in the Meatpacking Industry

by Hanna Eyobed, age 17

Meatpacking factories are violating labor laws and exposing children to dangerous chemicals, federal labor investigators found. Kids as young as 13 have faced dangerous exposure to chemicals used to clean biohazardous substances in Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin alone, 50 illegally employed minors were hired under the supervision of the Packers Sanitation Service Inc. (PSSI). Upon investigation by the Labor Department, the PSSI was placed under review by a federal judge. The Labor Department also found 31 underage workers in three plants owned by the companies JBS and Turkey Valley Farms in Nebraska and Minnesota. Other underage employees have been identified in Arkansas. A 13-year-old who used to clean the JBS plant every night in Grand Island, Nebraska suffered a serious chemical burn from what was used to clean the plant. Other teens working at the plant stated that “everyone there knew '' that they were minors, according to investigators. The Labor Department has been comparing school records with employee rosters to find underage workers.

It’s part of a larger investigation of PSSI’s more than 700 locations and other meat-packing companies in the Midwest. “This case should serve as a stark reminder for all employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate violations of the law, especially those that put vulnerable children at risk,” said Michael Lazzeri, regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. [Read More]

Railroad Merger Could Mean More Hazardous Materials Will Cross the Mississippi River

by Oliver Zink, age 13

A new railroad along the Mississippi River will carry hazardous materials through communities and important geological areas with lots of wildlife. If any spills occur, wildlife and land will be damaged. The new railroad system will increase the carloads of two railroad companies by 41,000. There are significant concerns about increasing the chances of oil and gas spills.

The Canadian Pacific and the Kansas City Southern railroad companies are merging to create the first railroad stretching from Canada to Mexico. In case of an emergency, crews are on standby to clean up any spills using 66 different collections of equipment. The companies respond to their spills with qualified contractors. However, with the increase of loads, the chance of spills has risen and the need to increase the amount of this equipment has gone up as well. In some areas, it will be a challenge to clean up spills due to possible spring floods in the area.

Nothing is preventing the construction of this railroad as it would cost money and more time. The trains will carry hazardous materials such as crude oil and petrol gas. Since the companies are common carriers, they are obligated to accept any good offer. [Read More]

The Android vs. iPhone Divide Among Teens and Young Adults

by Kelly Vazquez, age 18

There is a heated debate, primarily between teenagers and young adults, regarding the choice of mobile phones. In these debates, Androids are, more often than not, put down despite being the most commonly used worldwide.

Kira, a 15-year-old, reveals that she owns an iPhone because it's the popular choice among her friends, and she doesn't want to feel left out. Kira's experience with peer pressure to own an iPhone is not unique. According to Melissa Jones, a former teacher from Indiana, it's not just the type of phone that matters to students; it's also how "up-to-date" the phone is perceived to be.

Peer pressure to keep up with the newest phone trends is not only noticed in school but also on online platforms such as TikTok. Content creators participate in these debates, suggesting in videos that individuals still using Androids in 2023 are outdated. When presented with arguments such as the better battery and camera in Androids, content creators, like Abdoul Chamberlain, refused to change to an Android. Others have shared their experiences of being teased by peers for using Androids in high school through videos. [Read More]

Toxic TCE Chemical Found in Two Milwaukee Residential Buildings

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic carcinogen, recently gained attention in Milwaukee, when 250 Milwaukee residents first heard about this hazardous chemical from health officials knocking on their doors. They were evacuated from two apartment complexes in the area due to elevated levels of toxins remaining from the sites’ industrial history. Surprisingly, none of the tenants, despite experiencing short-term symptoms, were familiar with this harmful chemical.

This colorless liquid is found in certain factories for metal cleaning and can also be found in paint removers, adhesives, carpet cleaners, dry cleaning, and shoe polishes. Short-term exposure to TCE can result in dizziness, headaches, nausea, sleepiness, and confusion. Higher toxicity levels corresponding to prolonged exposure are associated with various health issues, including cancers, liver damage, and fetal defects, with effects that can manifest decades after exposure.

In Milwaukee County alone, there are 832 sites with a history of TCE pollution, and 261 of these sites are undergoing cleanup efforts. The remaining locations have been shuttered, suggesting that cleanup activities are complete, however, TCE may still be present. [Read More]

Wisconsin Rejects $1 Billion Dupont Settlement, Seeks Higher Compensation Over PFAS Contamination

By Will DeFour, age 13

The average person consumes approximately half a gallon of water daily, but this water isn't pure, as filtration systems sometimes allow pollutants to pass through. One particularly infamous group of pollutants, known as "forever chemicals," poses significant threats to both the environment and human health.

These persistent pollutants are called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an issue Simpson Street Free Press has been diligently covering for the past several years. They earned the name "forever chemicals" due to their indestructible resistance to biodegradation. PFAS are byproducts created during the manufacture of various products, including sticky notes, nonstick pans, packaging materials, carpets, and firefighting foam. These chemicals find their way into water sources such as the Mississippi River and local areas like Starkweather Creek, here in Madison. Even at extremely low concentrations, as low as 0.004 parts per trillion, PFAS can cause severe health problems, including low birth weight, kidney failure, and cancer.

Addressing these critical issues requires a reduction in PFAS contamination. Although the US Environmental Protection Agency and State Department of Natural Resources have attempted to establish regulations for these chemicals across the Midwest, their efforts have proven insufficient to halt the contamination. Consequently, over 20 states have denounced a proposed $10.5 billion settlement from a major PFAS producer, 3M. [Read More]

Unlocking Opportunities with a Madison Library Card

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

The city of Madison is home to nine public libraries, as well as a mobile library, the Dream Bus. While the Madison Public Library system still lends out books, movies, CDs, and even video games, it has grown to offer a variety of additional opportunities and resources to Madisonians. The key to accessing these opportunities within Madison libraries and the South Central Library System: is a library card.

There are multiple ways to sign up for a library card. For example, sign-up can be done online or at any Madison Public Library location. You will need an ID and proof of your current address. The first card is free and then you can request free replacement cards.

The Madison Public Library website has a list of 30 things a cardholder can do with their card, such as checking out movies, books, computers, DVDs, ebooks, current newspapers, magazines, and many more interesting things. Students and other individuals can reserve a study room to work on homework or school projects. The rooms were made for people to use as a tool to meet with friends or group work members and study. [Read More]

Manufacturing Giant Reaches Landmark $10.3 Billion Settlement to Address PFAS Contaminated Water

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Manufacturing giant 3M, known for producing household staples like Scotch Tape, Command Strips, and Post-it notes, has settled with numerous cities and towns across the nation for $10.3 billion. This agreement aims to tackle the persistent problem of water supply contamination caused by the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) also referred to as "forever chemicals," which have been identified as posing threats to human health.

Under the agreement, 3M will pay the landmark sum over 13 years to support communities.

The long-anticipated settlement could reach a staggering $12.5 billion. The settlement follows lawsuits alleging that 3M knew about the health risks of these chemicals in its consumer products. However, 3M does not admit any liability. According to Scott Summy, one of the leading plaintiffs' attorneys, the funds will be used for testing and cleaning up water supplies. Before this, chemical companies Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva reached a separate $1.19 billion settlement over PFAS pollution. Together, these settlements mark significant steps in addressing the PFAS issue and protecting water sources. [Read More]

Study at Stanford University Shows Steep Economic Costs from COVID Learning Loss

by Yoanna Hoskins, age 17

When the world shut down due to the pandemic, resources were ultimately lost, disrupting learning at all levels. However, K-12 students were the most affected by this learning loss, a study at Stanford University concludes.

Dr. Eric Hanushek, a Stanford economist, estimated that the learning loss might force the impacted K-12 students to earn $70,000 per student less than usual during their careers. Based on the results of eighth graders' national math test scores between 2019 and 2022, there was a 9% increase in failure to perform basic math skills. Furthermore, the scores created the greatest drop ever recorded to this date. Also, these scores translate to a learning loss of 0.6 to 0.8 years of school. If the estimate is correct, students educated during the pandemic will earn 5.6% less during their careers than those educated before the pandemic, adding up to more than $28 trillion lost throughout this century.

This study has coincided with studies conducted by researchers at universities like Dartmouth and Harvard which forecasted a drop of 1.6% in lifetime earnings for students in K-12 schools. Additionally, these studies uncovered that learning loss would ultimately result in lower graduation rates and higher arrests. [Read More]

Meta faces $24 Million Fine for Campaign Finance Violations

by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 16

A Washington State judge has levied fines against Facebook's parent company in a campaign finance lawsuit brought by the state. Judge Douglas North of King County's Superior Court fined Meta, one of the richest companies in the world, nearly $25 million for repeatedly and willfully breaking the campaign fund disclosure law.

The State of Washington requires businesses to be transparent about their ad sellers. If asked, they must provide the public names and addresses of those who purchase political advertisements, who the advertisements target, how they were paid, and the number of views each political advertisement received. Washington's Fair Campaign procedures were established in 1972 and strengthened by legislative action, and more than 800 infractions have been detected that the corporation has committed.

Meta says the Fair campaign procedures are “unconstitutional because [they] unduly burden political speech” and are “virtually impossible to fully comply with.” The court has replied that Facebook's conduct during this case is pure “arrogance.” [Read More]

Locks and Dams on the Mississippi River Need Fixing

by Alan Cruz, age 19

The Mississippi River is a lifeline for the American economy and global food supply, with around 175 million tons of freight transported on its waters every year. However, the century-old locks and dams that guide the barges along the river are well past their expected lifespan. Uncertainties about who should pay for maintenance and repairs only add to the resulting slower transit times and fears of a major breakdown in the future.

The upper Mississippi River has been a challenge to navigate for decades. Shallow waters often made it possible for people to walk across, hindering commercial traffic. To address this, a project was approved by Congress in 1930 to create a system of 29 locks and dams, stretching from Minneapolis to Granite City, Illinois. Water locks are navigational structures that regulate water levels in a river or canal to allow boats and barges to move between different water levels. These locks allow the Army Corps of Engineers to control the water levels in different sections, ensuring a minimum depth of nine feet for barges to pass through.

Today, towboats on the river push an average of 15 barges at once. However, when they reach the 600-foot-long locks, they simply don't fit, and splitting up the barges takes twice as long. Mike Steenhoek, the executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, describes the system as a garden hose connected to a fire hydrant. With farmers producing more corn and soybeans than ever before, delays have only worsened. [Read More]

Congress Approves $350 Million Funding for New Icebreaker to Boost Great Lakes Shipping Industry

by Devika Pal, age 17

The Great Lakes ice breakers allow over 90 million tons of cargo to pass through the Great Lakes region annually. Recently, Congress approved a $350 million defense funding bipartisan bill, called the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act, to build a new icebreaker and optimize the Great Lakes shipping industry.

Shipping is the foundation of the Great Lakes economy. Behind the U.S. and China, the Great Lakes region would have the third-largest economy in the world if it was a country. They ship a range of items including farm products, steel, coal, and project cargo. Due to recent ice delays, the Great Lakes shipping industry lost 1.7 million tons of cargo and 28 days of work. The pandemic has exacerbated shipping delays, and along with ships getting stuck in ice, this has caused major supply chain issues.

The Mackinaw icebreaker is the only one of the nine icebreakers the U.S. Coast Guard owns that can open a path sizable enough for large freighters to traverse. Along with icebreaking, it also acts as a flooding control mechanism. The new icebreaker is similar in size to the Mackinaw and will serve the same purpose. [Read More]

Wisconsin Begins PFAS Testing this Fall

by Sandy Flores Ruíz, age 16

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are a family of synthetic chemicals. They are used in everyday household products, such clothes, carpets, nonstick cookware, packaging, and firefighting foam due to their ability to repel water and stains. The PFAS family of approximately 5,000 chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they last for a long period of time in the environment and human body. Research suggests that these chemicals can cause various types of cancers, decrease birth weights, damage the immune and reproductive systems, impact hormone regulation, and alter thyroid hormones.

Since 2019, the DNR has been working to develop standards for two of the better known PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, to determine safe levels of these two chemicals in public water systems. Beginning this fall, Wisconsin communities will be required to test their water to ensure that the PFOA and PFOS do not exceed limits set by the State of Wisconsin. [Read More]

New Study Shows Pay Gap Between Men and Women even After College

by Devika Pal, age 17

Anisa Maredia carried an ambition of pursuing a career in dentistry but witnessed gender discrimination in the field. As a participant in hiring workers, she recalls interviewers inquiring about the marital status of female candidates. Maredia also called out the stark difference in pay salaries between males and females.

A 2015 Wall Street Journal report revealed a noticeable disparity in pay between men and women. Across some 2,000 universities, using 1.7 million graduates, the analysis found that men’s median pay surpassed females by 10%. This study shows that despite having similar credentials, the pay gap begins as soon as new graduates are out of college and are in the hiring process. [Read More]

How the Danish Resistance Fought Nazi Occupation with 'Illegal' Newspapers — by Allison Wallace, age 11

On April 9, 1940, Germany officially invaded and occupied Denmark, a small country in northern Europe that could not hold its own for very long. Most Danes opposed the occupation, so the Danish resistance was formed. [Read More]

Wisconsin Supreme Court 4-3 Decision Sparks Open Records Debate

by Leilani McNeal, age 17

Open government watchdogs say a recent 4-3 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court might weaken part the state’s landmark 1982 Open Records Law. The court ruled citizens are only entitled to certain types of open records requests if there is “some judicially sanctioned change in the parties’ legal relationship.”

The opinion dates back to a 2017 lawsuit filed by Waukesha residents and a taxpayer group, Friends of Frame Park. The dispute concerned city plans to bring an amateur baseball team to the community.

The litigants were granted their records request, but later denied access to a proposed draft contract between the City of Waukesha and Big Top Baseball. But city officials claimed public access during ongoing negotiations might compromise the future contract. Waukesha officials said “public disclosure of the draft contract before the Common Council has had an opportunity to consider the draft” might hinder negotiations. [Read More]

How the Chicago Defender Newspaper Helped Spark “Great Migration” — by Mariama Bah, age 15

Once known as "The World's Greatest Weekly," the Chicago Defender newspaper has been publishing news and information for nearly 117 years. Providing dependable and important news to the African American people of Chicago, it remains one of the most influential black weekly newspapers in the nation. [Read More]

Study Shows Paxlovid Decreases COVID-19 Related Hospitalizations and Deaths
by Moises Hernandez, age 18

A new study shows that a treatment for COVID-19 significantly reduces hospitalization and death rates. Patients prescribed Paxlovid are about five times less likely to be hospitalized and ten times less likely to die, compared to patients to whom the medication is not prescribed, according to a study published on Epic Research. [Read More]

Wisconsin School District Rejects Book About Japanese American Internment Camps
by Desteny Alvarez, age 17

On June 13th, Wisconsin’s Muskego-Norway School District rejected the book When The Emperor was Divine from a tenth-grade advanced English class. Author of the 2002 historical novel, Julie Otsuka, wrote the novel based on her own family’s experiences. It has won the American Literary Association’s Alex Award and the Asian-American Literary Award for bring forth a significant perspective in the story of a Japanese family from Berkeley, California that was sent to an internment camp in Utah’s desert. [Read More]

State of Wisconsin Issues PFAS Warnings for Dane County Fisheries — by Makaya Rodriguez, age 17

PFAS, also known as (poly-fluoroalkyl substances), are man-made chemicals. They were used on clothing, carpets, non-stick pans, cookware, and as firefighting foam. PFAS are made to be stain and water-resistant. These PFAS chemicals are being found in many Wisconsin bodies of water, specifically in Dane County. [Read More]

Congress Struggles to Pass Big Tech Reform Bill — by Leilani McNeal, age 17

New legislation that targets Big Tech platforms has successfully passed both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The bill is expected to reach the Senate Floor this November. [Read More]

New Transfer Options Available for Wisconsin Nursing Students — by Melanie Bautista, age 16

Madison Area Technical College (MATC) and the University of Wisconsin - Madison have come to an agreement to let transfer students from MATC with earned associates in nursing to earn a bachelor's degree at UW-Madison. [Read More]

How Newspaper Reporters Covered the Dust Bowl — by Gabby Shell, age 16

Often overshadowed by the wider Great Depression, the Dust Bowl was a major ecological crisis that gripped the Great Plains in the 1930s. The result of decades of failed land management and cyclical droughts, the Dust Bowl led to the loss of crops and livestock. It also took more than 7,000 human lives. [Read More]

Lisa Byington Makes History as Basketball's First Female Play-by-Play Announcer — by Josepha Da Costa, age 17

While the Milwaukee Bucks came up short in this year’s playoffs, it was still a great season. The team won its division, defeated the Chicago Bulls in a five-game playoff series, and once again excited Wisconsin basketball fans. The team made another move during the season that got less notice. The Milwaukee Bucks hired a new TV announcer. [Read More]

New Bill Directs Unspent Relief Funds to Child Opportunity Scholarships — by Sydney Steidl, age 16

Utah Representative Burgess Owens Proposed legislation that would redirect unspent Covid relief funds to low-income families to further their children’s educations. [Read More]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Pledges to Diversify Newsroom — by Sandy Flores-Ruíz, age 16

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—the largest newspaper in Wisconsin—recently disclosed its goal to hire new staff, particularly focusing on hiring more women and people of color. Hiring new personnel will help bring more diversity to the newsroom and help the Journal Sentinel continue its commitment to employ a workforce that reflects the community it serves. [Read More]

Google Removes Apps For Stealing Users’ Personal Data — by Kadjata Bah, age 17

Just this spring, Google took numerous apps riddled with malware off of its Play Store. Its action came after various Android apps were discovered to contain data-harvesting code, sparking questions on cybersecurity and privacy. [Read More]

New Nigerian Music Genre Makes its Way to the Mainstream — by Aissata Bah, age 12

new musical genre, Afrobeat, is reaching the music charts. Making its way from Lagos, Nigeria, it continues growing off its successes. [Read More]