16 Educational Podcasts for Curious Kids

16 Educational Podcasts for Curious Kids

From the John Hopkins Center for Talented Kids
By Katy Bowman
Click here for the link to the article.

Podcasts — audio shows that listeners access on computers and smartphones — are great tools for learning and entertainment in this era of extended screen time that comes with virtual schooling. The audio format can help satisfy kids’ quest for knowledge and ignite their imaginations while giving their eyes a much-needed break from screens.

“Podcasts require kids to imagine their own visuals, which is something they don’t get to do as much these days,” said Jennifer Swanson, CTY science instructor, author of more than 40 books, and co-host of the podcast “Solve It! For Kids.” “Kids are so inundated with video, but podcasts tap into your imagination by making you close your eyes and think, for example, ‘What does an aquanaut look like?’”

The audio-only format can also help young listeners see themselves in the careers discussed on podcasts like Swanson’s, which features guests like a chemist, astronomer, and an underwater explorer or aquanaut, speaking on kids’ level about their careers in science. “This is where diversity comes in, because maybe kids are used to seeing a certain type of person in a lab coat. Maybe it’s a white male — but maybe it should be a Black female or a Hispanic male. It allows kids to see the diversity in their head.”

The podcast industry has grown so much in recent years that kids can now use them to learn about all sorts of subjects, from the Coronavirus to vocabulary words. Many podcasts even include digitally downloadable lesson packets for educators and parents who want to keep the conversation going.

Once your child has sparked a love of podcasts, see if they’d like to create their own! Swanson recommends this free how-to kit from NASA, which walks kids (and adults!) through the steps of writing, recording, editing, and sharing a podcast.

Here are some of our favorite podcasts for educating and engaging curious kids ages 8+:

Book Club for KidsTween bookworms will love hearing other middle schoolers discussing a book of the week and recommending their favorites in this podcast — which also includes visits from authors and other celebrity guests.

Brains On! Kids co-host this podcast which explores topics like bones, ants, feelings, cats, lasers, and why siblings are so annoying.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids. Kids from around the world submit their questions and have them answered through episodes like How Does Slime Work? Why do Spiders have Eight Legs? and What is it Like to be an Adult?

Code Switch. Tune into kid-friendly episodes of this excellent podcast that examines issues of race through conversations about history, society, and pop culture.

Greeking OutPercy Jackson fans will enjoy this podcast that retells popular Greek myths like Jason and the Golden Fleece and Orpheus and Eurydice.

Mystery Recipe. Kids and their families learn how artistic, scientific, and fun cooking can be through interviews with professional chefs, trivia, and bake-along segments in this podcast from America’s Test Kitchen.

The Past and the CuriousThis podcast aims to “share true stories of inspiration, humor, and the incredible achievements of all types of people, many of which are sadly under-shared.” They do so through stories and songs about topics like history’s fakes and frauds, the serendipitous inventions of popular toys, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, bikes, shipwrecks, and more.

Presidential. This podcast explores the triumphs and tragedies that befell all 45 presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump and everyone in between (Millard Fillmore, anyone?), with help from award-winning biographers and historians.

Smash Boom Best. This debate show pits two things of similar ilk against each other and brings on celebs to argue the case for each side, leaving listeners to decide for themselves which is better: pigeons or rats? Teleportation or telekenisis? Ice cream or french fries? Now THAT’s a tough call.

Solve It! For Kids. Kids age 10+ will enjoy tuning in to interviews with scientists, engineers, and experts to learn the real scoop on careers in science. Each episode includes a challenge that listeners can try themselves.

Story Seeds. Budding writers of all ages will adore this show, which pairs kids who have a great idea with storytellers who help them turn it into a story — like YA author Jason Reynolds, who teamed up with 12-year-old Irthan to create a story about an earthworm that turns into a human every full moon.

Stuff you Missed in History Class. Even tweens and teens who aren’t quite out of history class will enjoy this podcast that explores the lesser-known stories behind people events that shaped history, like the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and scurvy.

The Ten News. Ten-minute daily episodes feature fun facts, topical news bits, and a trivia question.

Tumble. Relatable stories and visits from real scientists help kids understand atoms, bacteria, vaccines, volcanoes, and more.

Wondery Kids. This podcast conveniently pulls Wondery’s family-friendly content, including series about history, sports wars, business wars, and American innovations, into one place for kids to enjoy.

Wow in the World. This NPR podcast explores the many wonders of the world, from animals’ sleeping habits to the human body to cool insect abilities, and even includes weeklong hands-on “tinkerclass” projects kids can try at home.

 

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