Podcasts are an engaging way to explore contemporary science ideas, hear diverse voices and appreciate different perspectives. Their conversational, sometimes provocative style can support students to make connections with their own lives and presenters can be great role models as skilled science communicators.
Short segments of podcasts are excellent prompts for student discussions in class. Note that listening for extended periods of time can be challenging for some students, who require more sensory input. Podcasts are useful to extend learning outside of school, to play during science club or, if students have individual devices, to support outdoor learning.
Tips for choosing the right podcast
Check the publication notes and listen to the whole episode! As you do, think about these aspects:
- Speakers. Are they credible? Is their commentary evidence-based and authoritative?
- Language and themes. Podcasts often take the form of informal storytelling; check that the language and themes are appropriate and accessible for your students.
- Literacy demand. Does the podcast have a clear storyline? Do lots of different people speak and are they clearly introduced when they do? Is a transcript available?
- Science concepts. Do the concepts discussed match the episode notes? Are they pitched appropriately for your students? Do they reflect current research?
Explore Australian podcasts
The Science Show
Learn about the latest scientific research and debate.
Look at Me
Learn about lesser-known weird and wonderful tales of Australian wildlife.
Shirtloads of Science
Explore a range of topics with Dr Karl Kruszelsnicki and guests.
The Pop Test
Learn about science topics through this fun comedy quiz format.
Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe
A fun-filled, jargon-free podcast about the big, mind-blowing, unanswered questions about the Universe.
The Deep Blue: On My Doorstep
A series of 12 podcasts that focus on research being undertaken in Australia by leading marine experts.
Appreciate the cultural diversity of scientists through this podcast of yarns with First Nations/Indigenous academics.
Learn about the work and careers of Australian scientists.
Explore international podcasts
The Naked Scientists
Science news stories, scientific breakthroughs and interviews with leading scientists.
Big Picture Science
Explore connections between the latest science and technology research and investigate pseudoscience with this podcast from the SETI Institute.
Chemistry for your life
A podcast designed to help you understand the chemistry (and physics) of everyday life.
Ologies with Alie Ward
A comedic science show that explores the diversity of science specialisms.
Provoke students’ curiousity about the strange world we live in.
Australian Curriculum: Science (Version 8.4) links
Podcasts can support students to go deeper with concepts introduced through the Science Understanding strand. They are excellent prompts for discussing issues linked to Science as a Human Endeavour and can address both the Nature and development of science and the Use and influence of science sub-strands. Students could develop their own podcasts to address the Communicating sub-strand of Science Inquiry Skills (ACSIS133/148, ACSIS174/208).
A thinking routine is a set of questions or steps used to scaffold and support students to organise their ideas, reason carefully and reflect on their thinking. The routines can be used in a range of contexts. If you are new to thinking routines or would like to explore further, check out Project Zero’s Thinking Routines Toolbox.
These thinking routines prompt students to consider the structure and ideas presented in the podcast more deeply. Select the routine that best supports your goal for student learning.
Layers – supports students to understand how the text has been designed.
Students can sometimes forget that podcasts, documentaries and other science communication texts are the product of intentional design. This thinking routine supports students to look closely at the creative design that has informed the podcast and fully notice what is there.
Unveiling stories – helps reveal multiple layers of meaning in the text.
Science podcasts are often structured to tell a story. This could be a story of discovery, a story of conflict, or a story that invites us to experience life or particular events through a different lens.
Sticking points – supports students to appreciate multiple viewpoints about an issue.
Podcasts are an engaging way of introducing students to big issues and the concepts of Science as a Human Endeavour. This thinking routine is a useful way of structuring a class discussion about big issues or controversies. Note the aim is to appreciate the range of viewpoints, not to agree on a resolution.