NPR's Student Podcast Challenge is back for a sixth year! This year, with popular demand from elementary teachers, NPR is introducing its first-ever fourth grade contest. Judges will choose winners in three categories: grade four, grades five through eight and grades nine through 12. Entries must be submitted by a teacher, educator or mentor who is 18 years or older. NPR will be accepting entries from Feb. 2, 2024 to May 3, 2024.
"Over the years this contest has brought us a great range of stories from all over the country," said Steve Drummond, Executive Producer, NPR Ed. "Students have shared how big events like new technologies, the pandemic lockdown and our changing climate are impacting young people's lives. Other students, including a number of our winners, shared more personal stories on the mic, as they tried to make sense of their family, their hometown, or their own race, gender, identities and disabilities. We are excited to see what the new year will bring with even more opportunities for young students to participate."
The contest rules remain much the same: Students can create a podcast about any topic they wish to explore. To give you an idea, NPR has listened to stories on everything from social media to tattoos to even fictional tales. Some themes we've seen over and over include questions on race and identity and how young people do, or don't, fit in. Your podcast can also be in many different formats: an interview, narrative story or even investigative reporting. You can do it by yourself or with your entire class.
To help students get started, NPR has provided a slew of podcasting resources on how to tell a good story, how to warm up your voice and how to use music in your podcast, among other topics. Even, and we're serious about this: how making a pillow fort can make you sound better!
You can find more tips and tricks on The Students' Podcast, an NPR podcast on how to make a good podcast. We also encourage you to get a feel for what we're looking for by listening to last year's high school winner and middle school winners. And previous years' winners' here. For more tips, advice and the latest updates on this year's contest, make sure to sign up for our newsletter.
In addition to having their work featured on national NPR programs, winning middle, high school and college students will also have NPR journalists report features on their entries. Other standout podcasts may be featured online, on other NPR programs or on local Member stations. And for college podcasters, we'll be announcing finalists and the winner of the 2023 College Podcast Challenge in the next month. So please keep an eye out! The next college contest will return this fall with a $5,000 grand prize and $500 prizes for finalists.