Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

Every year, the Lumina Foundation, a national organization that monitors post-secondary education and works towards increasing the number of Americans with college degrees releases a report on just how many students have gotten that piece of paper. The report for 2016 has just been released.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the president of the Lumina Foundation about their goals, and how they plan to get there.

The Best of Our Knowledge host Bob Barrett chats with Ira Flatow
Michael Spooneybarger / CREO

Back in the early 1970s, a new network called National Public Radio hired a young producer out of college who had two special interests: baseball and science. And since the network didn’t plan on doing much sports coverage, he finally got on the air with that other topic.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, I sit down with Ira Flatow, the person who founded NPR’s Science Unit and the host of the weekly public radio program Science Friday.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with the millions of cells in your body that don’t really belong to your body…your microbiome.

So how should we tackle the subject of autism, as a health or medical issue or as an education issue? You could make an argument for either. April is Autism Awareness Month…and we’re going to look at it as something people live with. And there are stories about all of those lives.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the President and CEO of the Hospital for Special Care in Connecticut about their program called “Spectrum of Kindness”, which hopes to tell as many of those stores as possible.

Dr. James Krupa
Orion Magazine

It always strikes us as a little odd when someone talks about either believing or not believing in evolution. While we understand the theological arguments, and trust me we’re not getting into one today, the current scientific evidence shows evolution to be a fact, not a belief system. But still, about half the population of the US says they don’t believe that…and an article last year in Orion Magazine points to school systems as being the number one culprit.

Over the years we’ve heard about the importance of reading to our children from a very young age. Now, there’s research to show that just talking to children from the moment of birth can help their brains develop…and the number of words is extremely important.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn about the 30 Million Words Initiative, and how poverty may be affecting the way some parents speak to their children.

More schools around the country are emphasizing STEM education to help students get a head start in a world that is rapidly becoming more technology driven. But with all that science and math…is there any room for creativity?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about a group where imagination is the key to the destination.

Then we’ll hear about some nursing students who are helping new refugees in the US navigate the health care system…and we’ll also spend an academic minute with Baby Boomers who are having a little too much fun.

Space is hot. Yes, I do in fact know that outer space is icy cold… but here on planet earth, shows about the planets and exploration of the universe are turning some astrophysicists into rock stars. Well now there’s one who would rather be a star in interpretive dance. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an astrophysicist who is putting together a multimedia presentation that’s out of this world.

Then we’ll hear about a unique program in Massachusetts that is helping high school students get a good start to the day.

University of West Florida

American needs more nurses…it’s one of the most in demand professions in the US today and it doesn’t look like the demand is going to go down anytime soon. So how much education do today’s nurses need…and has that changed over the past decade or so. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the Dean of the College of Health at a Florida university and find out her diagnosis on the state of nursing education.

We’ll also spend an academic minute staying healthy by keeping a nice house.

WUWF Radio

Bob  was kind of tempted to start today’s program with a rhyme, but decided he's not that talented or hokey. Poetry, the real stuff not anything he could come up with, is everywhere…if you know where to look.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll meet Jeff Newberry, an English Professor and Poet in Residence at an agricultural college in Georgia who is also a published poet that turned his love of his home along the Gulf Coast into verse.

Science has given us a way to have our individual genomes sequenced, opening up a vault of information about our genetic makeup and possibly our future health. But if information is generated…there will be people trying to get a hold of it.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, just how private are your genetic building blocks?

Next we’ll go from science to history and find out about a newly discovered letter that may shed light on the presidential election of 1876.

A couple of weeks ago we ran a segment talking about a new report on the state of charter schools in the US. The report was released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and though it was factual it certainly highlighted the advantages of charters. I’ve been asked to give an opposing view and realized we already had.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, my talk with former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, who calls the privatization movement a Reign of Error.

C2 Education

Beginning March 5th, students around the country will sit and take the S.A.T….and it will be very different. In what some are calling the biggest overhaul to the exam in a century, it will look different, be scored differently and, hopefully, better measure a student’s chance for success in college.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a national leader in SAT preparation about the new exam.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

This is the 25th year that charter schools have been operating in the US, and new report says that, enrollment wise, they are doing better than ever. Hundreds of new charter schools have opened this year. However, a couple hundred have closed. And the head of a national charter school group says that’s fine with them.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll catch up with the charter school movement.

Nearly 75 years ago, a troubled young boy in Mississippi made history. He was the first person diagnosed with Autism. Since then, the scientific community has worked hard to understand the cause of the condition…while parents struggled even harder to have their children accepted in society.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the award winning journalists who wrote a comprehensive new history of Autism.

We’ll also spend an academic minute discovering a lost part of the human brain.

Facebook

Reaction has been coming in from all sides on President Obama’s State of the Union Address. The reaction from Republican presidential candidates was as negative as you’d expect. The other side of the aisle was more positive. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a conversation with, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

The White House
The White House

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. That’s the line from Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution that has morphed into the president’s annual state of the union address. And most years, that address has a section devoted to education. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll review President Obama’s final state of the union.

Equator Network

It takes a long to time research and report findings in a scientific journal.

So after all that work, you’d like of think those scientists would be good at actually writing the reports. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about STARD, a statement of standards for scientific reporting. And how they’re being updated.

We’ll also hear about the lights being used to study Lake Champlain, learn about efforts to save a dying language in the Northwest and spend an academic minute exploring your inner feelings about the United Nations.

Bob Barrett

Whether it’s done with pen and paper, computer, tablet, even stone and chisel, writing has been and will continue to be one of the signature means of communication. Teaching writing is as important as ever…as is getting teachers the tools and training to be effective writing mentors to students.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the National Writing Project, and how it’s expanding into an area of the country that really needs it.

And another one bites the dust. Before we kick 2015 to the curb for good, let’s listen back to conversations with some really interesting people we had this year. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll listen again to Pat Bradley’s interview with Alan Alda when he came to Vermont to open an institute for scientific communication.

William L. Clements Library / University of Michigan

Happy holidays! This time of year we always look back and listen again to some stories about interesting people we met during the year.

UWF Historic trust

Quick, what’s the oldest city in the continental United States? If you said St. Augustine…bingo; you’re mostly right. That small city on Florida’s east coast is the oldest continuously occupied European-established community in the states. But the people who built that settlement weren’t the first to try to put down roots in what would become the Sunshine State.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at how Florida is trying to preserve its history.

Do you remember the movie "Mean Girls"? The screenplay to the 2004 film was written by Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star Tina Fey, who also had a role in the film. The movie was a worldwide hit and remains almost a cult favorite 10 years later. But did you know it was based on a non-fiction book called "Queenbees and Wannabees"?

In 2012, the New York Times Magazine published a detailed story about the sexual abuse of students at the Horace Mann School, an upscale private college preparatory school in the Bronx. As you might expect, the story got a lot of attention…but has prompted very little change.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of that article who has expanded the story into a new book called “Great Is The Truth:  Secrecy, Scandal, and the Quest for Justice at the Horace Mann School” .

From technology and test scores to Common Core, curriculums and teaching techniques are changing all over the country. And a lot of different sources are weighing in on what those changes should look like. But are the students getting enough input in the process…and should they?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the question of student voice in the education system.

We’ll also meet a young man from the UK who says he’s addicted to selfies. And we’ll spend an academic minute with onomatopoeia.

Is solving a university level math problem your idea of fun? Then have I got a book for you. A professor from Oxford University in the UK has complied over 100 of these problems for people who love a good math puzzle.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems.

We’ll also listen in on a public session on Common Core in Northern New York State, and spend an academic minute building a better bridge.

Cornell University via Facebook

There’s a group at Cornell University called the Cornell Alliance for Science, and they are holding a special event this month featuring global leaders talking about food insecurity and the challenges of farmers in countries around the world. But one of the major topics has some people in the US questioning the efforts. The topic: Genetically Modified Organisms.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear the pros and cons of GMOs in the developing world.

GED Testing Service

A group of major employers in the US have gotten together to provide their employees with a free path to further their education. And we’re not talking about technical education or masters degrees.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn about GED Works…and new program to help employees finally get their GED..

We’ll also hear how many school districts in New York State are looking to opt out of new teacher evaluation standards, find out about enriching the education of young people in paradise…and spend an academic minute studying the sturdiest part of a turtle.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults on college campuses are not unusual. This year, a new law took effect hoping to make students safer. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear if the Campus Save Act is making a difference in a state with a high assault rate.

We’ll also travel to Portugal and hear how art is helping students build self-esteem, find out how teachers can avoid cyber traps waiting for them on line, and spend an academic minute figuring out just how Mexican your favorite Mexican restaurant is.

Anyone who enjoys trivia probably knows that Humphry Bogart never actually says “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca, and Captain Kirk never says “Beam me up, Scotty” in Star Trek. But what about these quotes: Cleanliness is next to godliness. God works in mysterious ways. For years many people have assumed these came from the bible. Spoiler alert – they don’t. Or at least they didn’t.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the lost book of Hezekiah that finally gives a home to those phantom biblical ditties.

NOAO/AURA/NSF

A while back we had a great discussion about cosmic voids…and how they are everywhere and take up a huge amount of space in the universe. One thing we heard about that day was Dark Energy. Now, scientists from around the country are launching a new project that hopes to expand our understanding just what the heck that is!

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to one of the researchers chosen to participate in the DESI Project.

We’ll also keep it dark by spending an academic minute learning a little more about Dark Matter.

Pages