Podcasts for Gifted Learners

July 19, 2016

by Morgan Carrion, Assistant to the President

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive…” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

There are many ways to explore and learn new things. One wonderful medium is the podcast. A podcast is an episodic audio program available via the internet. There are many incredible podcasts out there with themes ranging from science, to current events. Some notable programs you are likely to have heard of are This American Life, Radio Lab, and Serial. This week, I would like to share a few podcasts that I think are great for the gifted learner. Please note that, while I have provided a link to each show’s website, you should also be able to find each podcast for free on iTunes.

60 Second Science
Get your daily dose of podcast with these tiny scientific expositions that manage to squeeze anecdotes, interviews, and a satisfying amount of information into two minute episodes. Episodes focus largely on biological topics about plants and animals, with occasional episodes rooted in other sciences such as “Is Mars Missing a Moon?” 2-3 min

Aaron’s World
Aaron’s World is a very cute “adventure” podcast from the imagination of a little boy. Although the narrative structure does not really take off until episode six, each episode features a different dinosaur and some context about its environment. To get context for the whole story it is best to start from the beginning. 2-3 min

Brains On
A science show for kids, Brains On strives to be engaging and educational. The show is very kid-centric, which is great; however, I do feel that it at times lacks substantial content. Nonetheless, for a younger gifted learner, it may provide them with a space where curiosity is encouraged and celebrated. 30 min

Kids Who Code
There are 18 episodes of Kids Who Code. Knowing little about the world of coding, some of the concepts went over my head, making it more difficult to evaluate. However, I was so happy to come across a podcast for kids with this topic that I had to include it. 25 min

Physics Central
Physics Central is rich in content and well produced.  The structure of the show follows a typical radio-story-telling format in that there is a narrator providing context for comments from scientists and researchers in the physics world on a given topic. This is an excellent podcast for kids who have a big appetite for science. 25 min

Short and Curly
I like this show because it’s unique. Short and Curly is a podcast about ethics. The two Australian hosts ask questions like: “Can you trust a robot?” “Should you eat your pet?”  “Is Dumbledore as great as he seems?” At times the level of reasoning may feel simple to a gifted child, but they do a good job of asking questions that do not have straight answers and therefore are capable of engaging a broad audience of listeners. Kids are encouraged to call in or e-mail, which I like. 20-25 min

Below are a few podcasts that would be well-suited to family listening, or teens due to mature content.

99% Invisible
99% Invisible is a podcast about architecture and design. The show explores the power of architecture and the way spaces influence our lives. It is beautifully done and brings new meaning to the environments we spend our lives within. This podcast is produced by Roman Mars, whose Ted Talk on design has over 3 million views.  25 min

FW: Thinking
FW: Thinking looks into the future of “technology, humanity, and the future.” This podcast covers a wonderful variety of topics and entertains possible outcomes to the way the world is changing. In addition, its website hosts a large library of videos I did not look into myself, but appear very interesting. 45 min

Invisibilia weaves together scientific concepts, input from experts, and the stories of everyday people to explore “the invisible forces that control human behavior.” This show has a tendency to explore some intense human experiences, and thus can be heavy listening for the more empathetic and sensitive among us. 60-70 min

Radio Lab
Radio Lab is a downright amazing podcast. Not only is it a wonderful sensory experience but the content is rich, complex, surprising, humorous, and moving. Its “About” page says it best:  “Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” 40 min

The Memory Palace
The Memory Palace is a historical story telling podcast wherein the narrator explores a place, person, or event and tells a story you probably have not heard before. For such a short show, it leaves a strong impression. 10 min

Other Suggestions: Hardcore History, Science Friday, Stuff You Should Know

Please note that I have not listened through every episode of each program. I would recommend that parents look into each podcast before permitting children to listen alone.

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Morgan received a B.F.A in Studio Art from Biola University. She is an interdisciplinary artist committed to cultivating a rich awareness and engagement with the world around her. Morgan is passionate about education and deeply admires IEA’s commitment to developing the whole person. Over the past five years, Morgan has worked in a number of different educational and administrative roles. Prior to coming to IEA she served as a school group docent for The Getty Center and a nanny to a family with a gifted child. She is exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such lovely people and to further IEA’s meaningful mission.

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