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NPR Student Podcast Challenge Returns For 2nd Year

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now we have a challenge.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

NPR's education team is asking teachers and students to turn their classrooms into studios and their lessons into podcasts. Yep, that's right. The NPR Student Podcast Challenge is back.

CORNISH: You might remember back in May, this show aired one of the grand prize-winning stories. It was from students in rural Tennessee. They did a podcast about the time when their town became famous.

CHANG: Or infamous.

CORNISH: Yeah, well - what happened there almost 100 years ago to an elephant named Mary.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #1: When you hear the town of Erwin, Tenn., most people think, oh, that's the town that hung the elephant.

CORNISH: The story started off simple - a parade with the elephant, Mary. But things went badly wrong when, in front of all the townspeople, Mary threw off her trainer and trampled him, and local leaders decided to hang the elephant.

CHANG: Jeez.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #2: They decided that the elephant needed to be put down, and because of the time period it was, they didn't have a gun that was big enough to shoot it, so they decided they wanted to use the railroad to hang it. And since Erwin was the largest railyard in the area and had the biggest crane - that they would take it over there and use their crane actually hang it with.

CHANG: That was one of the thousands of entries teachers sent in. The podcasts covered all kinds of topics that are important to students.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #3: Maybe you guys have heard of the climate crisis sweeping the globe today.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #4: But think about where exactly did you hear that. I know when I was little, I thought global warming was the fact that the ice is melting and the polar bears are in trouble.

CHANG: There were podcasts about climate change, also school lunches.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #5: Here's what people have to say about tater tots.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #6: Tater tots are very good because they're easy to eat in one bite.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #7: Here's what some more people have to say about tater tots.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #8: I like tater tots because they're mushy and not so crunchy like fries.

CORNISH: This is pretty much how a radio piece goes.

CHANG: (Laughter) Other student podcasts covered vaping, immigration and video game addiction.

CORNISH: And listen to these students from Crow Agency, Mont.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #9: We are going to talk about misunderstandings that people make about the Crow. People think we still live in teepees and still hunt for food.

CORNISH: For the details and rules of this year's challenge, just search for the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. There, you can also learn how to record good sound and what makes a great podcast.

CHANG: And come next spring, we'll once again hear one of the grand prize winners on this show.

CORNISH: Along the way, we'll bring you some of the other grade student reporting, like this story about an important issue for students at Park Hill Elementary School in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #10: My friends and I have heard of some ridiculous bathroom policies.

CHANG: Well, there you go. The name of our show, after all, is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #10: At one high school, to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom, a student only gets two passes a semester. Nico, your thoughts?

NICO: What? Only two passes? That must be a rumor. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.