Media Guide – November 18, 2016

Media Guide – November 18, 2016

Grade Level



15 minutes or fewer


Media Guide

Each week we provide a rundown of the latest Science Friday stories, ready for classroom use. Last week Science Friday discovered the potential uses of “programmable” fungi, discussed the challenges of addressing fake news on Facebook, and learned about data from the New Horizons mission that sheds light on Pluto’s axis.

Also check out our newest Science Club where we are asking you to break something down into simpler parts to understand it better. Get some ideas for things you can easily break down here, then share your ideas with #Ibrokeitdown on Twitter or Instagram or submit your project with our form here. Submissions received before December 9, 2016 may be included in our on-air wrap up!

We are still beta-testing this resource and would love your feedback.

MycoWorks' mushroom leather. Credit: Science Friday
MycoWorks’ mushroom leather. Credit: Science Friday

The Fungi in Your Future

As it stands, the mushroom is a pretty multi-purpose organism: Aside from its ecological functions, it can be eaten as nourishment, brewed as tea, taken as a naturopathic remedy, and used in dyes. But a San Francisco start-up by the name of MycoWorks has even more plans for mushrooms, starting with a leather-like material made from the fungi.

Vocabulary: fungi, mycelium, substrate, stresses, and cultivate
NGSS: LS1.A: Structure and Function

Video Transcript & Video Download


  • Explain why Philip Ross describes fungus as “programmable”. How does MycoWorks accomplish this “programing”?
  • Why do you think people might be resistant to materials made from mushrooms? Recommend 2-3 strategies you think MycoWorks could use to combat resistance to this material.
  • Why is it important to know how Ganoderma lucidum responds to stresses? How does this help MycoWorks?
  • Why is mushroom leather better for the environment than animal-leather?
  • Based on Philip Ross’ descriptions of the diverse materials they created, what would you want to try creating from mycelium? Draw and describe one idea.

Activity Suggestions

We are still developing this resource and would love your feedback.

Related Educational Resource

Mushroom Prints

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

All the (Fake) News That’s Fit to Share

In the days just after the presidential election, the top result returned by the Google News service for the search “final election results” was an article from a dubious website that claimed—wrongly—that Donald Trump had won the popular vote. In fact, an analysis by BuzzFeed News found that in the final three months of the election season, fake news stories on Facebook outperformed top real news stories published by reputable news providers such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, and NBC News.

Both Google and Facebook have said that they will put measures in place designed to slow the spread of fake news, mainly by restricting the placement of advertisements that earn money for viral sites, though Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said last week that he doubted fake news had had much impact on the election. Slate’s Will Oremus joins Ira to talk about the challenges of putting a damper on the viral spread of fake news, and what readers can do to be more aware of their online news diet.

Vocabulary: fake news, algorithm, skewed, prioritized

Audio Excerpt All the (Fake) News That’s Fit to Share 11/18/2016. (Original Segment)

Segment Transcript


  • What is Facebook’s current strategy to address fake news on its site?
  • How were fake news stories able to generate so much traffic on Facebook? What features of Facebook enabled them to be spread so broadly?
  • Do you think it is important to be able to distinguish accurate news from fake news? Why or why not?
  • How do you evaluate news for accuracy?

Activity Suggestions

We are still developing this resource and would love your feedback.

Keane - Animation of Pluto Reorienting - annotated
This animation shows how Pluto reoriented in response to volatile ices filling Sputnik Planitia (the left lobe of Pluto’s “Heart”). Sputnik Planitia started northwest of its present position, and as it filled with ices, the tides from Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) caused the entire dwarf planet to reorient, and align Sputnik Planitia with Pluto’s tidal axis (the line running through Pluto and Charon). If Sputnik Planitia is still accumulating ice, then Pluto may still be reorienting. Credit: James Tuttle Keane. Maps of Pluto and Charon by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Pluto Rolls Over (the Dwarf Planet, Not the Dog)

One of the most recognizable features on Pluto’s surface is a massive, heart-shaped basin. Now researchers say that as ice accumulated in part of that basin, it appears to have tipped the dwarf planet on its axis. Sophie Bushwick of Popular Science discusses the finding.

Vocabulary: Pluto, tidal axis, subsurface ocean, crust, fault lines
NGSS: ESS1-2: Earth’s Place in the Universe

Audio Excerpt “Pluto Rolls Over (the Dwarf Planet, Not the Dog)” 11/18/2016. (Original Segment)

Segment Transcript


  • Explain what caused Pluto to roll over.
  • Pluto’s surface temperature is estimated to be -240 degrees Celsius (-400 degrees Fahrenheit), but it has a liquid-y ocean. Do you think that ocean has the same composition as our oceans? Why or why not?
  • How did fault lines help scientists determine movement of Sputnik Planitia? What other evidence do you think scientists need to verify this finding?
  • Based on the movement of Sputnik Planitia, would you say that Charon (Pluto’s closest moon) is close to Pluto’s size or much smaller than Pluto?

Activity Suggestions

We are still developing this resource and would love your feedback.

Related Article

Well, Hello, Pluto!

Related Segment

Pluto Comes Into Focus

Educator's Toolbox

Meet the Writer

About Xochitl Garcia

Xochitl Garcia is Science Friday’s education program assistant. She is a former teacher who loves hanging out with her fat-tailed gecko, which, despite the efforts of students, family, friends, and a fantasy football league to name it, is still only referred to as “the gecko.”

Explore More