Fifth graders in the new Podcast Club welcomed Judge Tanya Chutkan from the US District Court for DC for a special interview this week. As everyone settled into their seats to begin recording, Judge Chutkan complimented the students on the questions they had given to her ahead of time: “I really had to think about my answers!”
The interview of Judge Chutkan is one of three that the students have planned and which they will use to create a podcast for NPR’s first-ever Student Podcast Challenge. To focus their podcast, the students have chosen the theme of perseverance, and they hope to uncover the ways that people overcome challenges in their lives through the interviews they conduct.
To meet NPR’s submission deadline of March 31, the process to turn these students into podcasters has been swift. Academic Technologist Sam Moser and 5th Grade Teacher Brian Stark began by helping the 5th graders in assigning roles, developing a script and questions for interviews, and connecting with possible interviewees. But now, Brian and Sam serve as facilitators and watch the students direct the club’s activities. “It has been amazing to watch the 5th graders hone their topic and specify details of their plan,” Sam says in awe of the student’s dedication and commitment.
When Judge Chutkan came to the recording studio for her interview, the students were ready to dive in. They asked questions like What was something really big that challenged you? How do you define perseverance? What strategies did you use to overcome a challenge? Who helped you and how? What do you suggest to kids who face challenges? Then, the students turned the tables and gave the judge the opportunity to ask them some questions. It was a spirited conversation in which the student interviewers and the judge discovered several common experiences. It’s too soon to reveal more of their conversation, though; you’ll have to tune back in to hear the podcast!