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Student Podcasts? For Our Contest, We Got Thousands Of Them

LA Johnson

We asked teachers and students to put on their headphones and turn their ideas into sound for our first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge — and boy, did they. We got nearly 5,700 entries, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Podcasts that explored climate change. Podcasts about gun control and mental health. About great books and mythology. Hedgehogs and history.

Teachers and their students at 1,580 schools participated: all told, roughly 25,000 students nationwide.

Middle schoolers in Denver tackled an age-old subject: bathroom passes. Eleventh graders in Morehead, Ky., told us about hanging out in the Walmart parking lot. And three fifth graders in Harrison, Ark., grilled their principal about their school's shortage of playground equipment.

Student journalists took on topics important to them: social media and its impact on youth, smoking and vaping addiction, and many, many, many (!) explorations of video games, especially Fortnite.

Along the way, at least one student made headlines. For his podcast assignment, a seventh grader in New Orleans did some investigative reporting and discovered traces of lead in his school's drinking water. As a result, the New Orleans schools are taking action.

Now that the entries are in, we've begun listening to each one. Later this month, we'll announce two grand prize winners, one from grades 5-8 and one from grades 9 through 12. And keep an ear out for other standout entries and honorable mentions in the coming weeks.

Missed the deadline? We're hoping to hold the contest again next year. Teachers, get your podcast ideas ready.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Drummond heads up two teams of journalists at NPR. NPR Ed is a nine-member team that launched in March 2014, providing deeper coverage of learning and education and extending it to audiences across digital platforms. Code Switch is an eight-person team that covers race and identity across the network, and in an award-winning weekly podcast.