Children's STEM-Focused Podcasts as Promising Learning Experiences: Research Summary
Kid-focused STEM podcasts have grown in popularity over the years, but the ISE field lacks knowledge of the impact and value of this medium as a means for engaging children and families in science learning and discovery. This research summary shares the results of an exploratory study of the popular children's science podcast, Brains On!, in an effort to being to fill this knowledge gap.
The research was guided by three overarching research questions:
- Who is the audience for Brains On! and what are their motivations for listening to children’s science podcasts?
- How are Brains On! listeners using the podcast and engaging with its content?
- What kinds of impacts does Brains On! have on its audiences?
These questions were answered through a three-phase mixed-methods research design. Each phase informed the next, providing additional insights into answering the research questions. Phase 1 was a review of a sample of secondary data in the form of audience comments and feedback gathered by the Brains On! team and posted by listeners online. Phase 2 was an online survey of Brains On! listeners, with a focus on understanding Brains On!’s core audience of children ages 5 to 12. Phase 3 was group interviews with listener family groups that included members of the core audience.
This Research Summary provides an overview of what the research uncovered over the course of the exploratory study related to the three research questions.
We hope the results of this study will benefit the informal science education field by beginning to fill a gap in the current knowledge-base around the potential for science children's podcasts to contribute to a wide range of informal science learning outcomes for children and families, as well provide insight into what features of children's science podcasts can lead to those outcomes.