Here are a variety of podcasts that may interest our high school students (and maybe their family members and teachers, too!).
Created in 2002 by host Jad Abumrad, Radiolab began as an exploration of science, philosophy, and ethics using innovative composition and sound design. Radiolab has expanded and evolved to become a platform for long-form journalism and storytelling. The show challenges its listeners’ preconceived notions about how the world works. Radiolab provokes, it moves, it delights, and it asks its audience to see the world around them anew.
This popular NPR radio show and podcast combines personal stories, journalism, and even stand-up comedy for an enthralling hour of content. Host Ira Glass does a masterful job of drawing in listeners and weaving together several "acts" or segments on a big, relatable theme. With an archive of over 600 episodes on as many topics, it might be tricky to figure out which episodes to share in the classroom. Many episodes have mature concepts and swearing, so be warned this may not be suitable for all audiences.
This I Believe was a radio series on NPR (now archived) that focused on the writing, sharing, and discussing of people's core beliefs through short personal essays. In the classroom, teachers can use This I Believe to get students to write about their own experiences. Personal experiences, beliefs, and values can make a rich foundation for classroom discussions, but you'll want to make sure you've created a safe space for sharing. A companion book and website offer plenty of resources for teachers and students to work on personal essays.Grades 9-12Part of the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning project observing the 400th anniversary of American slavery, this audio series is challenging, thought-provoking, and an essential resource for teaching about the history and legacy of slavery. Consider pairing the series with The 1619 Project Curriculum from the Pulitzer Center.
From the people behind the award-winning website HowStuffWorks, this frequently updated podcast explains the ins and outs of everyday things from the major ("How Free Speech Works") to the mundane ("How Itching Works"). Longer episodes and occasional adult topics such as alcohol, war, and politics make this a better choice for older listeners, but hosts Josh and Chuck keep things engaging and manage to make even complex topics relatable. And with nearly 1,000 episodes in its archive, you might never run out of new things to learn.Grades 9–12What's CODE SWITCH? It's the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for! Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we're all part of the story. Although some episodes might not be appropriate for younger students, the creators of the podcast have created a playlist of kid-friendly episodes.
Duolingo has two distinct podcasts - the Duolingo Spanish Podcast and the Duolingo French Podcast. These podcasts follow the exact same format: in each episode, a native Spanish or French speaker tells a true story in their language. These stories are meant to be easily understood by listeners with intermediate language skills. That said, an English narration is also given along the way in case you get lost!
Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, and the biases that shape our choices. Hosted by NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology, and sociology, among other fields. The goal of Hidden Brain isn't merely to entertain, but to give you insights to apply at work, at home and throughout your life.
Though “admissions” is in the title, Inside the Admissions Office: Advice from Former Admissions Officers is a great resource to listen to even before you start applying to colleges. Every other week, I interview a Former Admissions Officer or admissions expert from InGenius Prep about succeeding in high school and the college admissions process. My guests pull from their own experiences as students and as evaluators of thousands of college applications to give advice to current high school students. Episodes not only cover admissions components like the personal statement or letters of recommendation, but also topics like summer plans, internships, and high school course selection.
National Geographic is a household name, especially for those who love science and nature. Nat Geo might be best known for their magazine or their new shows on Disney+, but they also have a podcast! Overheard at National Geographic is definitely one of the best podcasts for high school students, especially for those who are fascinated by the world around them. Each week, hosts Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs are joined by a scientist, photographer, or explorer to discuss a conversation they overheard at the National Geographic headquarters. Because National Geographic covers such a wide variety of issues, the podcast is very diverse. Some episodes cover more historical topics such as the judicial papyrus of Turin while some, like the episode “The Frozen Zoo,” may be more interesting to science-oriented students.
You probably spend a lot of your time on the internet. Reply All is all about the internet. Each episode discusses an internet story of the week and what it says about modern life. Reply All’s episodes are as insightful as they are fun. The show has covered topics from Snapchat hacking all the way to the classic “30-50 feral hogs” meme. Under the guise of an entertaining show, Reply All has the capacity to teach all of its listeners (from you to your parents!) about the ways of the internet and how it can be used for both good and for evil.
This podcast is for anyone who has an entrepreneurial mind or big dreams. When to Jump is hosted by Mike Lewis, a man who quit his day job to become a professional squash player. In each episode, Mike interviews guests about when they took their own leaps of faith. With topics from starting a business to going back to school to becoming a professional poker player, this podcast investigates when you should take risks and how you can make them pay off. This show is sure to be inspirational for any high schooler who is second-guessing themselves or isn’t sure how to turn their dreams into a reality.
Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the trusted source for news about science, technology, and other cool stuff. Host Ira Flatow mixes it up by featuring people in the know and those who want to be. Science Friday frequently features listeners that call in with their most riveting science questions.
One of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps has recorded the stories of over 250,000 people in the U.S. Students at just about any grade level or in any subject area could use the StoryCorps interviews in a variety of ways, including writing prompts, discussion topics, primary sources for research projects, and more. Students also can record their own stories. StoryCorps Education provides teachers with free lesson plans and support to use StoryCorps in the classroom.
Little-known history comes alive three times a week in this fascinating, comprehensive podcast from the people at HowStuffWorks. With a focus on weird events, overlooked stories, and underrepresented groups, this popular series is educational, too. The extensive archive is easily searchable by topic. Teachers can find supplemental material for lessons on the civil rights movement, European history, World War II, and much more.
Pants on Fire is a silly game show where a tween gets to interview two grown-ups, one who's an expert on a topic and one's who's lying. Hosts Deborah and L.I.S.A. (a sound effects "robot") guide the kid contestant through the interviews with some goofy jokes and question suggestions, but it's the kids that make this show worth checking out.
Brainy teens will love this NPR quiz show for its wacky blend of news and comedy. Longtime host Peter Sagal and a panel of comedians/journalists run through a series of recurring segments about the latest news, and listeners can call in to compete. There's even a weekly celebrity guest. Although it's appropriate for radio broadcast, occasionally the jokes get a bit off-color, so make sure teens are mature enough to handle it.
What's Good Games is an informative, funny weekly podcast all about video games. The three hosts (who happen to be female) have great chemistry and demonstrate clear expertise on the biggest games on the market. The (very long) episodes cover news, listener questions, and personal experiences playing games. But keep in mind: While the podcast itself is OK for teens, some of the games they discuss are very mature.
TeensHave you ever wanted to know who would win a fight: Luke Skywalker or Spider-Man? Finally, someone is taking this question and others like it seriously in a geeky podcast about beloved comic, sci-fi, and fantasy characters. And while the audio quality isn't a match for some of the more established podcasts on this list, the lively, well-researched, well-argued debates between the hosts more than make up for it.
NLP's new podcast, features experts who address the question, “How can American democracy survive and thrive in our toxic information environment?” The show will include conversations with leading American thinkers, journalists, foreign policy experts, psychologists and authors. It will seek to help listeners understand how they can become part of the solution to the misinformation crisis. Episodes will drop every Wednesday, beginning Sept. 16.