Science Podcasts in the Classroom

I recently listened to and reviewed 3 different science podcasts, Brains On!, But Why and Tumbler. All shows provide provocations in the form of an unknown sound or a question, these are opportunities to press pause and reflect either as a class, in pairs or independently. When listening to podcasts kids can close their eyes and focus on the content of the show, cutting out the visual sensory information of a video. All the shows break information up into smaller chunks and speak in calm unhurried voices, which allows for time to practice listening, digesting and reflecting on the information. I have provided links below to all the shows and episodes that I reviewed if you are curious.

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Brains On!

Brains on! is an award winning science podcasts for kids and curious adults from American Public Media. At Brains On! they are very serious about being curious.

Each week a new kid co-hosts with host Molly Bloom to find answers to captivating questions about the world. Their mission is to ” encourage kids natural curiosity and wonder using history and science”. The questions are generated by listeners, questions can be uploaded to the website with the possibility of being featured on the weekly show.

Check out listeners favorite episodes here.

The creators of Brains On! also have a history podcast called Forever Ago and a debate podcast called Smash Boom Best .

You can listen to Brains On! online at NPR radio , through podcast apps like Podcast Addict or wherever you get your podcasts.

I listened through the NPR radio link to the December 18th show, Soil: Can you dig it. Some features of the show:

Whats that sound? – a short sound clip that has to do with the episode topic in some way. When listening to the podcast with your class you can pause at this point and discuss their ideas.

Moment of um – a question provided by listeners that has to do with episode topic. A good time to pause and reflect as a class.

But Why?

But why is a show from Vermont Public Radio where kids ask the questions and they provide the answers. Listeners can submit question by recording an audio file and emailing it to

Hosted and produced by Jane Lindholm with help from producer Melody Bodette But Why? tackles questions big and small about nature, words, even the end of the world.

I listened to Why do days start at 12 o’clock , a mind blowing episode that tackles questions on time including sundials, base 12 and physics.

wikimedia – Calder Sundial

In this episode host Jane Lindholm introduces the big questions of time. But Why has received questions from listeners in 48 different countries over the past two years, that’s 17520 hours! Questions like….

How does time work? How do people decide 1 hour is 60 minutes? How is time created? Why do clocks have to go clockwise? All these questions are answered in the episode. The show features:

Guest speakers – Each episode brings in a guest speaker. This episode on time brings in Andrew Novick an engineer from the time and frequency division of the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Further Research – Jane frequently suggests asking an adult for research help if interested in discovering more about one of the subtopics in the episode. She also encourages kids to keep curious about the question, possibly becoming the adults that answer them.


Tumble is a podcast hosted by husband and wife duo Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla. At Tumble they believe in two things:

  1. If kids understand how science works, the world will be a better place
  2. Let’s make more podcasts to help kids understand their world

Science isn’t a body of facts, its a process. At Tumble they see podcasts as a powerful education tool for a better future. The show tackles questions like ….Whats at the edge of the solar system? and…..What would earth be like with no volcanoes?

I reviewed the episode Discover the Wildlife of Your Home, a look into the bugs in YOUR home or neighborhood.

The episode asks listeners what bugs they see in their homes and what they do when they see them. Guest host ecologist Rob Dunn, along with other scientists started tracking bugs found in houses. They found an average of 100 different species of bugs in the average house!Things like spiders, dust mites and mites that eat dust mites, a whole ecosystem in the nooks and crannies of your home.

Lindsay and Marshall suggest going on your own indoor bug expedition, starting at the light fixtures and windows, areas of light that bugs gravitate towards.


This episode asks kids to contribute to the body of research by documenting and uploading pictures of the bugs in your home to the app inaturalist a      ( citizen science projects), where other people can help you identify the bugs in your home.

The show encourages scientific exploration and features a new activity at the end of each episode.

Tumble believes in constantly asking questions, a theme in all of the Podcasts reviewed….stay curious

For EVEN MORE great Science podcasts you can listen to with kids click this link. And here is another list of great podcasts that cover all sorts of themes.

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