NPR has announced the 2020 winners of the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. The challenge is a chance for students to compete with young people all over the country for the grand prize: their story appearing on NPR’s Morning Edition or All Things Considered.
Our judges chose these two winners from more than 2,200 entries overall – ones that came from 46 states and Washington, D.C. There were podcasts about science, sports, siblings and natural wonders, about historical events and books and, in many cases, about the shutdown and the pandemic. In addition to the grand prize winners, we’ve recognized 25 finalists and 25 honorable mentions.
Many students recorded, produced, and edited their podcasts from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NPR says that this year they saw a notable increase in quality, which made the judging all the more difficult.
The winner for grades 5-8 is “Masked Kids”. It was done by sixth-graders Leo Yu, Angelo Chen, Becky Liu, Si Chen Xu, Joyce Jiang, Zoe Jiang, Nichole Cheng, and Amanda Chen, at PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology in New York City.
In their podcast, the students interviewed high schoolers about the harassment they felt as the coronavirus hit New York City. Along the way, the students taught listeners relevant words such as mask, sneeze and face in Mandarin.
The entry was submitted by Karin Patterson, who teaches English as a new language and runs the Dragon Kids Podcast Club after school.
The winner for grades 9-12 is “The Flossy Podcast: Climate Change & Environmental Racism”. It was done by seniors Jaheim Birch Gentles, Jamar Thompson, Joshua Bovell, Brianna Johnson, Kamari Murdock, Isaiah Dupuy, with music by Iezan McKinney at The High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media in New York City.
After attending a climate march in Manhattan, the seniors began asking tough questions about why they didn’t see many black protesters. “Climate change is racial injustice,” the students concluded in their podcast. They interviewed protesters, cited research and discussed their own observations about how global warming disproportionately affects black communities.
The work was submitted by Mischaël Cetoute, a restorative justice coordinator who helps run the Men in Color after-school program at the school.