Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014

Science Update

60-second podcasts spark kids' interest with daily fix of science news

Subjects & skills
  • Arts
  • Science

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Middle and high school students are exposed to daily examples of how science is continually changing.

Cons: Learning more about the scientific topics covered will require additional support.

Bottom Line: Amidst some fun, these audio clips provide a regular dose of news about current scientific research.

Teachers could post links to interesting Science Update podcasts on their class websites or Twitter feeds. Alternately, you could build the RSS feed right into your class website so it updates automatically. Or consider using these quick, 60-second podcasts as daily hooks to open your lessons.

Some teachers might find it helpful to subscribe to the weekly edition of the podcast via email. Listening to the 60 seconds of science a week can help you keep abreast of how the field of science is changing. Encourage your students who are science lovers to subscribe for their own personal and academic enrichment.

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Science Update is a collection of audio broadcasts by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each podcast is 60 seconds long, and new shows are published daily. Topics run the scientific gamut, from Acoustics and Sound to Wildlife and everything in between. Teachers or students can become Science Update followers through email, iTunes, or other podcatchers. School radio stations can also sign up to broadcast daily science news for free. 

Science Update captures recent advances in science, technology, and medicine in a short and fun way. Since stories are kept brief, kids are more likely to tune in. Also, the show regularly features such quirky topics as the Friendship Genetics Podcast, which hints that genes and a similar sense of smell may bring friends together. The downside to these quick stories is that kids don’t get the opportunity to dig deeper and understand how the science actually works.

There are links the AAAS ScienceNetLinks site where there are some related questions, resources, and opportunities to help students go further. Also, it's worth noting that the AAAS has aligned these tools to their own Project 2061 Benchmarks instead of the Next Generation of Science Standards. Science Update has the potential to get kids excited about science, but teachers may need to fill in some gaps and extend learning with additional tools to help kids move their learning beyond the soundbite.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Individual stories may initially capture kids’ interest, but the site could do more to harness this excitement and keep the momentum going.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Most content is up to date and accurate. Though it could spark further inquiry elsewhere, 60 seconds won't be long enough for kids to dive deeply into the scientific concepts covered.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Transcripts of podcasts are available for students with hearing impairment. Kids and teachers will have to hunt on their own to find additional information or extensions for further learning.

Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Debra D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Daily Science Updates!
Overall it's not a bad site and would recommend using it occasionally but not on a daily basis. It's very bland offering only audio and no visual aspects. It does add to lessons but couldn't be your only source of information. It's a very easy site to navigate I would just like something that offered a more visually appealing approach. I really liked that they offered transcripts so you could create notes out of them for your students as a guide.
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