19 Great Science Podcasts You Can Listen To With Kids
Most podcasts aren’t made with kids in mind. That’s okay. But why is it so hard to find stuff you can listen to with your kid?
Really, it’s a shame. Podcasts are an incredible medium for kids. Audio is imaginative, easy to consume, and you don’t need to “make time” to listen to a podcast — prime listening time is when you’re in a car. There are tons of educational TV shows and apps for kids. I believe there should be more podcasts for kids.
I’ve done the heavy lifting of combing through iTunes to find kid-friendly science podcasts. I’ve indicated where some podcasts are better suited to older or more mature kids based on content.
A quick disclaimer: I haven’t listened to every episode of all of these podcasts. As most are not made with a young audience in mind, there could be material you deem inappropriate for your kids — and also, the definition of inappropriate varies with every family. But hopefully, this list will spur some great discoveries.
**Update: Finally, there’s a listening app with ONLY content for kids! It’s called Kids Listen, and it features a playlist curated especially for educational shows! It’s now on the web, with an iOs app coming later this summer. The app is a great way to let your kids discover what they love. Now, back to the list:
Full disclosure, this is my own podcast. Tumble is all about the stories of science discovery — how science works, the bumps along the way to knowledge, and how we come to know what we know. It’s hosted by me (a science radio producer) and my husband Marshall (a middle school teacher). Tumble is made with kids ages 6–12 in mind, but we often hear from parents that they love listening, because they always learn something, too. Check out our episodes on dark energy, vomiting robots, whale sharks, dinosaurs, and more!
If you’ve ever thought, “Hey, is there such a thing as a science podcast for kids?” you likely know about Brains On! Produced by Minnesota Public Radio, each episode is co-hosted by a kid. There’s interviews, there’s science songs, there’s no end to interesting topics. Like farts!
Warning: You will not find a science podcast cuter than this. It’s hosted by a five year old who interviews adults about science. He’s a surprisingly good interviewer, and curious in that very special five year old way. It’s something great. Listen to the episode with Gross Science host Anna Rothschild.
4. But Why?
Aaron started producing this show with his dad when he was six. He’s now nine years old — that’s impressive! The production quality is good, too. It’s a science-focused narrative that takes place in prehistoric times. Go back and listen from the beginning.
This is a show from Gizmodo about science, technology, and scenarios about future. What if the Earth stopped rotating around the sun? What if all diseases become resistant to antibiotics? What if a supernova happened in the galaxy next door? Okay, it’s a little scary. It’s better listening for older kids.
I can’t help but recommend What’s the Point, one of my favorite podcasts. It’s a smart show that older kids who are into numbers might love. Host Jody Avirgan interviews people from all corners of the data world— from books to health to politics. The episode on how science works (or doesn’t) is a must-listen, and the show recently went into the field to learn how data can help save an endangered bird species.
Transistor is a STEM-focused podcast, brought to you by PRX (the same folks who help bring you Radiotopia.) Early episodes transformed scientists into science reporters, by pairing them with experienced producers. I loved the episode about food and fungus, hosted by a microbiologist. Mixed in are stories from independent producers sponsored by PRX’s STEM Stories project. These are not all kid-appropriate (episodes about crime are generally more sensitive), so you should judge episode by episode.
Imaginary Worlds is a science fiction podcast, and it’s so good, I’m calling it close enough. Science fiction lover Eric Molinsky crawls into every corner of science fiction culture, and talks to experts to get at the deeper truth behind the fictions. This is another one that’s best for older kids who are into scifi, and judging episode by episode.
Okay, so you probably know about Science Friday. But have you really thought about the fact that it’s available in podcast form? Personally, Fridays aren’t great days for me to listen to the radio. Problem, solved. Thanks, podcasts!
This podcast brings you stories from research in the natural sciences. I love that the show focuses on the process of science — you hear from the people in the trenches.
Scientific American produces these little bursts of science that cover all sides of science. Perfect for when you’re not ready to sit down for an entire science meal, but hungry enough for a science snack.
12. Star Talk Radio
Neil DeGrasse Tyson hosts. Need I say more?
This is an interview show that’s great for older kids and adults who are curious about what it’s like to be a scientist. In each episode, scientists from all different fields share their personal stories about what led them to do what they do, along with their successes and failures.
14. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
This is not your typical science podcast, but if your kids love Harry Potter and you love rationality, it’s the perfect fit. It’s fan fiction, in audio form.
From the website: “This is an alternate universe story, where Petunia married a scientist. Harry enters the wizarding world armed with Enlightenment ideals and the experimental spirit.” Just go with it.
Got a kid who cares about wildlife? Good for you. This podcast features interviews with conservationists, talking about animals, research, and the big challenge of saving species. It’s an offshoot of a conservation filmmaking company, so you’ll also find videos and episodes about creating documentaries.
16. Curious Minds
This is a well produced show about science, technology and history. Episodes are about 45 minutes long, making them great for long car rides.
17. Origin Stories
This is a podcast produced by the Leakey Foundation, so you know that means early human evolution, Jane Goodall, and other evolutionary interestingness. It’s highly produced, and sounds like the best of NPR science reporting.
This is a podcast about climate change. Or, rather, adapting to climate change. So really, it’s a podcast about people and the future. It’s produced by a Science Friday alum, so you know it’s quality.
19. NOAA podcasts
If you’re into ocean science and you don’t hate the government, you’ll probably like NOAA’s two podcasts. Diving Deeper deals with the ocean environment, and Making Waves is about the coast. It’s like exploring the ocean without the scuba gear!
Note: I intentionally did not include podcasts you’ve likely already heard about, like Radiolab and This American Life. I excluded podcasts that are not actively publishing, too. If you have suggestions of off-the-beaten-path shows I’ve missed, please comment and let me know! I‘d like to keep updating this list. I’d also love to hear from other people who believe there should be more podcasts for kids. Talk to me on Twitter @_lindsayp, or on Facebook.