Perspectives

NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge Returns, Now Open For Classroom Entries


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New resources for teachers and students grades 5-12, including a podcast about the contest

 

clip art of microphoneAfter an inaugural Student Podcast Challenge that saw roughly 25,000 students participate from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, NPR is encouraging even more teachers, middle- and high-schoolers across the country to turn their classrooms into production studios, their assignments into scripts, and their ideas into sound.

The NPR Student Podcast Challenge asks participating students and teachers to take a topic, a lesson, or a unit they’re learning about, and turn it into a podcast between three and 12 minutes long. To help classrooms get started, NPR has also shared suggested, but not required prompts, along with a set of criteria that judges will use to pick winning podcasts.

“In the first contest, we heard from student journalists on some of the biggest topics in the world today: climate change, immigration, gun control, social media, and mental health, to name only a few. We can’t wait to hear what perspectives and ideas students share in their podcasts this year,” said Steve Drummond, executive producer of NPR Ed and Code Switch.

2020 NPR student podcast challenge graphicAlongside the written training materials for both teachers and students, the reporters and audio experts at NPR Ed have also created a podcast as an additional guide. The Student Podcast Challenge podcast will feature how-tos and production tips; highlight great student podcasts and the teachers and students who made them; and talk with NPR reporters and the judges about what makes an entry sparkle.

“Last year, we heard from so many teachers who were excited about the contest but wanted even more guidance on how exactly to make a podcast. So, we decided to make a helpful audio guide: you can easily listen to it yourself,” said Lauren Migaki, co-host of the podcast about the Student Podcast Challenge.

The NPR Student Podcast Challenge is open for entries through March 24, 2020. The winners from each age group will be notified in April. Winning podcasts will be featured in segments on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered later that month.

A group of eighth grade girls at Bronx Prep Middle School, New York, NY, were the first middle school winners of the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. Their podcast, “Shhh! Periods,” covered period poverty, the ‘pink’ tax, and the culture of shame around talking about menstruation. 11th graders at Elizabethton High School, Elizabethton, TN, won the high school category for “Murderous Mary and the Rise of Erwin,” the story of a nearby town famous for hanging a “rogue” circus elephant using a crane. Last year, podcasts created for the NPR Student Podcast Challenge were featured in 50 local and national news stories, including The TODAY Show and Teen Vogue.

“When wclip art of headphonese started we didn’t think we had a voice, but now we have people from other schools in other states listening to our podcast and DMing us on Instagram to tell us that our podcast made them think differently about periods, or what it’s like to be a girl in this day and age,” said the Bronx Prep Middle School students.

In addition to having their work featured on national NPR programs, winning classes will also have NPR journalists visit their schools and report features their entries. Other standout podcasts may be featured online, on other NPR programs, or on local Member stations.

Subscribe to the Student Podcast Challenge newsletter for the latest resources, submission tips, and updates on the challenge.