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Six student podcasts offer a glimpse into the minds of children: NPR

Colorful illustration of student podcasters - some using headphones, others holding microphones.

From discussions of teen mental health to explorations of the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the 2022 Student Podcast Challenge offers a glimpse into the minds of children and teens across the country. This year, the contest received more than 7,500 minutes of podcasting from 45 states and the District of Columbia. Although all of the entries highlight a different topic, one thing is clear: we need to listen to children more often – and we don’t often get the chance.

Your opportunity to find out what they have to say starts here – with a compilation of some early entries from this year’s submission pool that made us smile, laugh or stop to think for a minute.

The contest finalists will be announced next week. Until then, check out these six podcasts to guide you.

Entrances to high school: on neurodiversity, stage fright and The Titanic

We’re all different

What happens when students don’t get the right support at their school? Fazli Qadir, a student at Wolcott College Prep in Chicago, discusses the challenges, stigmas, and strengths of the neurodiverse population in the United States. In her podcast, Fazli compares her own experiences between two different high schools and offers ideas on how to keep all types of students engaged in the classroom.

On the way to Carnegie: in the state-of-the-art choir class at Ramsay High

Choir students from Ramsay IB High School in Birmingham, Alabama, prepare for a performance at the one and only Carnegie Hall and ninth graders Reign Jones, Darrious Moore and Joselynn Walker are there to document it all. Their podcast discusses stage fright, creative self-discovery, and what they’ve learned about black history along the way.

Did Jack Dawson have to die?

“Do you really have to cry at the end of The Titanic ?” asks Samantha Quiroga, a student at Morton East High School in Cicero, Illinois. The podcast investigates the iconic movie scene where (spoiler alert!) the character Rose is rescued from freezing waters on a door fragment while her romantic interest, Jack, dies of hypothermia in the water. Samantha gives her own opinion on the film which she has seen “more than 100 times”, refers to a Mythbusters episode to get expert advice and conducts his own interviews to get to the bottom of the question that’s been nagging at us since 1997: was there room for Jack at that door?

College entrances: on molasses, protective hairstyles and Nvm, IDK

Unnatural Disasters: 1919 Boston Molasses Flood

Draw attention to a rather, ahem, sticky situation. Eighth graders Alma Woods and Ella Horvath of Clearwater Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, Florida, use their input to guide us through the very real disaster of the Boston Molasses Flood, an incident that caused millions gallons of molasses on city streets. The podcast is packed with very detailed (albeit fictional) interviews based on historical research and their narration takes you to the scene, where you learn how fast molasses can move.

black hair care

You can learn a lot from your mother. In her podcast, Arielle Lawrence of Chestnut Hill Middle School in Liverpool, NY, interviews her mother, a licensed cosmetologist, about caring for black hair. We learn how hair care methods have been passed down from generation to generation to the women of Arielle’s family – from trimming ends to moisturizing. Arielle and her mom discuss her mom’s hair journey – navigating curl patterns, relaxers, and her decision to go natural.

SMS issues

NVM. I do not know. Besides. These are all textisms. As explained by Dylon Grimaldi and Liam Azzaoui of Indian Hill School in Holmdel, NJ, textisms are widespread enough in today’s linguistic world to have effects on test scores. Keep your cynicism, however – positive results have been found in some categories! Students debate the pros and cons of textisms with their literacy teacher and a professional writer.


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