For NPR Student Podcast Challenge, Many Students Tackle Climate Change This year, NPR challenged students across the country to make podcasts about anything. Hundreds of students took on one topic: climate change.
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For NPR Student Podcast Challenge, Many Students Tackle Climate Change

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For NPR Student Podcast Challenge, Many Students Tackle Climate Change

For NPR Student Podcast Challenge, Many Students Tackle Climate Change

For NPR Student Podcast Challenge, Many Students Tackle Climate Change

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/727190912/727190913" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This year, NPR challenged students across the country to make podcasts about anything. Hundreds of students took on one topic: climate change.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

From the sunrise movement in the U.S. to the school strike for climate in 100 countries, teenagers have become the faces of climate activism. We definitely heard from teens when NPR held its first-ever student podcast challenge this spring. Hundreds of the nearly 6,000 entries in the nationwide podcast contest dealt with climate change and related environmental issues. Anya Kamenetz of the NPR education team has more.

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LEAH GLASPEY: Maybe you guys have heard of the climate crisis sweeping the globe today. If not...

ANYA KAMENETZ, BYLINE: Leah Glaspey, a seventh grader at Irving A. Robbins Middle School in Farmington, Conn., has a podcast for you.

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CARA SZCZEPANSKI: I'm Cara Szczepanski.

LEAH: And I'm Leah Glaspey. And...

KAMENETZ: Their teacher, Alysson Olsen, says the girls started their podcast journey by thinking of climate change as a debate. But as they got deeper into their research, their focus shifted to the gaps in their own education, and they got upset.

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LEAH: Climate change shouldn't be censored from the ears of children.

KAMENETZ: As they tell their classmates...

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LEAH: We were given an edited piece of the truth.

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KAMENETZ: Szczepanski ended their podcast with a passionate plea for change.

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CARA: I mean, this is scary, and we understand that. But people have to realize that climate change is real. And it may be scary, but we are the ones that need to fix it.

KAMENETZ: The title of their entry - "A Missed Opportunity: The Inconvenient Truth About Climate Change In Public Schools." Across the country at Highline High School in Burien, Wash., junior Kat Quach zoomed in on a different aspect of the climate change problem.

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KAT QUATCH: In this podcast, we're going to be talking about being vegan.

KAMENETZ: Quach chalked up the climate benefits of a vegan diet, which can be an uphill battle given American fast food culture.

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KAT: Taco Bell even serves a taco with fried chicken as a tortilla. We wrap our meat in other meats. Who decided that we ever needed that much meat?

KAMENETZ: Lily Duong is another junior at Highline whose podcast considered the relationship between food and the environment. She brought her microphone to her family's Vietnamese restaurant, where she says...

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LILY DUONG: At the restaurant, we don't compost. And often, many things we buy, like rice noodles, come in plastic packaging or is imported from other countries.

KAMENETZ: She interviewed her mother in the restaurant's kitchen about the practical barriers to becoming more sustainable. And, as we often do at NPR, she interpreted for her mother from Vietnamese.

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DUONG: Why don't we switch to biodegradable to-go containers?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking through interpreter) It's not required by law. And it's a little bit more expensive.

KAMENETZ: Speaking of sustainability, the seventh graders at Goshen Middle School in Goshen, Ind., produced several entries exploring the Green New Deal. These boys put the issue in terms of their dream cars.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I want the Tesla Model X because it will help the environment, and it looks pretty cool.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Well, I want a Tesla Roadster because it is an electric car, so that means it does not put out carbon emissions.

KAMENETZ: Students around the country told us they aren't just researching the topic of climate change. They're also taking action themselves.

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ZOE: Hey. So my name is Zoe, and this is David.

KAMENETZ: These fifth graders in Maryland Elementary in Bexley, Ohio, started a project called SOS for Save Our Seas. It's aimed at cutting back on plastic and increasing recycling in their lunchroom.

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ZOE: Sandro, what do you know about recycling?

SANDRO: Well, recycling helps the community and the whole earth by reusing plastic that we don't need and we can make into something helpful.

KAMENETZ: They announced their plan at a school assembly.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: And (unintelligible).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Who remembers what's SOS stand for?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Unintelligible).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Save Our Seas. Great job. Let's give them a warm round of applause.

(APPLAUSE)

KAMENETZ: And a round of applause to everyone who entered our student podcast challenge.

Anya Kamenetz, NPR News.

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