At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Dr. Brande Jones’ grade 9 Honors Biology students were challenged to create a podcast to submit to the New York Times Student Podcast Challenge. Her students chose from over 1,000 prompts provided by the New York Times Learning Network. Dr. Jones shares, “The students were required to connect their podcast to one of our Honors Biology learning outcomes for the year. I was impressed by the wide variety of prompts chosen by the students and their ability to connect a seemingly random prompt to one of our biology learning outcomes. I recently discovered that out of 675 applicants, two of our student podcasts were named runners-up, one received a honorable mention and six others were round two finalists!”

New York Times First-Ever Student Podcast Challenge

Runners-Up:
Bio Buddies by Aqil Merchant and Will Hudson

  

Plastic Garbage by Thomas Andersen
111 years ago Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite which used no natural molecules to make plastic that was durable, but not very biodegradable. This has changed the course of our environment, especially in oceans. Plastic now has gathered into an area three times the size of France, slowing down the water cycle and hurting marine life. We continue to dump eight million tons of trash into the ocean yearly. What can we do to reduce this impact on the environment?

  

Honorable Mention:
Chats with Me by Emily Kanderis
While I answer the question, can students openly talk about mental health in school? I dive into various aspects regarding mental illness. I explain the definition and what it means to have a mental illness, the stigma behind it, and the fear of being labeled as I share a story of my own. In the end, I can conclude that students can not openly talk about their mental health, for multiple reasons I explain thoroughly in my podcast.

Round Two Finalists:
Islands of Trees by Zack VanPutten
In this podcast, I talk about one thing that I can invent to make the world a better place. My invention is an island of trees. These trees act as wind turbines, but are a part of the carbon cycle instead of creating energy, like the wind turbines do. The island of trees is also a way to prevent deforestation. Listen to this podcast and learn about the carbon cycle and one way to make the world a better place!

Super Bio Brothers by Justin Blumencranz, Dillon Proctor, and Chris Hardie

Forrest and Christian in the Morning by Cole Forrest and Gill Christian

Cooking Up Some Bio by Emily Raeside, Audrey O’Toole, and Maddy Estenson

BioSisters by Alma and Anusha Merchant
Unbeknownst to many, biology and crime can exist together in the same world. The infamous “Golden State Killer” was identified with the help of biology, specifically by using DNA of a distant relative from a genealogy website. DNA is genetic material that holds the code for traits and helps make individuals up. It is a type of nucleic acid or an organic substance found in living cells made up of nucleotides. Essentially, DNA codes for genes which control things like eye color, hair color, face shape, toe length, and etc. In this episode, the Bio Sisters respond to the recent controversy regarding privacy of DNA used for genetic testing. Genetic testing is a form of scientific analysis that pinpoints differentiations in genes. 23andMe is one of many genetic testing companies that has struggled with consumer interest due to considerable amounts of questions and doubtfulness regarding the privacy and safety of sharing DNA. The Bio Sisters describe their own personal experience and clarify the “behind the scenes” action of the 23andMe process. From smelling asparagus in pee to learning about the possibility of having Down syndrome or Alzheimer’s Disease, this episode targets all happy, sad, and dark spots. The episode shares personal story and data while questioning the value of identity and DNA in the current world.

Spontaneous Combustion by Meaghan Stewart and Madison New

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