For the first time in its 47 year history, NPR (National Public Radio) has a science podcast aimed at elementary school aged children. Similarly, Tumble, a science podcast for kids, is telling stories about science with the help of actual scientists.
Both of these podcasts represent great strides forward in the quest to inspire the scientists of tomorrow, but they’re more than that. They’re more than high quality educational content. They’re more than tools to educate and inspire. These podcasts, when all is said and done, are just plain fun. And when it comes to catching the attention of an audience in today’s ever increasingly distracted and crowded world, nothing could be more important.
The best message in the world is meaningless if it goes unheard. It’s a good thing, then, that the message of these two awesome podcasts is being broadcast loud and proud.
To quote the one and only Walt Disney: “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something, than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
At Sci Chic, we couldn’t agree more with Walt (and that’s not just because Disney World is a little way down the road from our headquarters). It’s a potent strategy, and one the above mentioned podcasts have taken to heart to great success.
For NPR, who has a storied history of podcasting, this is their first foray into podcasting for kids. It’s safe to say they’re killing it. Wow in the World is self described as “A podcast for curious kids and their grown ups.” It’s a powerful concept (and might we add, a much needed one in the world of science communication).
But the concept alone is not how Wow in the World has earned its success. The way in which it executes its concept is key. Harkening back to the ideology of our favorite entertainment mogul, Walt Disney, Wow in the World intrigues and entertains its audience while educating them.
Wow stays current by exploring weekly events and discoveries in science, and combines that with fun sound effects, actual children’s voices, and easy to understand scientific concepts. Wow in the World might be NPR’s first foray into podcasting for kids, but it certainly doesn’t feel like.
Wow isn’t the only game in town, however. Tumble is blazing its own trail for how to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow. Hosted by the extraordinary duo of Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla, Tumble operates on two core beliefs:
- If kids understand how science works, the future will be a better place
- Let’s make more podcasts for kids
These beliefs are central to Tumble and shape the focus of everything the program does. In their own words: “We hope to prepare kids to be smart participants in society, who understand that science is one of the most powerful tools we have to shape our future.”
Now, initially one might think Tumble and Wow in the World are pretty much the same thing. So much so that they could even compete with one another. Put simply, they’re not. Though they both appeal to a similar audience, if anything, they’re complimentary to one another.
Tumble harnesses many of the same powerful strategies as Wow in terms of entertaining through storytelling, but they place a special emphasis on bringing scientists on to the show to talk about their fields and work.
We think this is an exceptionally valuable idea. Having kids hear directly from scientists, directly from the source, humanizes science. It takes what can sometimes seem a distant, often confusing system and presents it on a human level. Kids can hear these scientists talk about their studies with passion and excitement. Now we’re no experts, but there’s little doubt in our minds that that’s a far better method than simply reading out of a textbook or from a news article.
In our opinion, Wow in the World and Tumble are not in any way competitors. Rather, they’re complementary to one another. They cover similar topics, in similar manners, but they’re unique enough to warrant individual attention.
Both of these podcasts highlight a potent recipe for success in science communication and education. Through their entertaining and educational content, delivered in a fun, easily digestible package, they’re teaching the next generation about science. But even better than that: they’re inspiring that generation as well.
Nearly every scientist today has someone or something they can point to that inspired them to begin their career. In the years to come, we can’t wait to meet the next generation of scientists who attribute their inspiration to the enjoyable education provided through Wow in the World and Tumble.
You can listen to and learn more about Wow in the World here.
You can listen to and learn more about Tumble here.