Wow in the World

Ages: 0 and up

Kids and parents: set aside time to turn off the screens and listen to National Public Radio’s well-produced, delightfully conceived, science-themed podcast, featuring the inspired pairing of NPR reporter Guy Raz (host and co-creator of the “TED Radio Hour”) and Mindy Thomas (host of Sirius XM’s “Kids Place Live” radio show, “The Absolutely Mindy Show”). Each episode (approximately 25-minutes) offers fact-based theater-of-the-mind entertainment as Guy and Mindy launch explorations of varied aspects of science and technology that are propelled by humor and fantasy elements (the pair’s mode of travel to far-flung places: Reggie, the carrier pigeon). “The Dinosaur with Dandruff” episode encompassed Guy’s flaky hair situation, the T-Rex ancestry of Mindy’s pet chicken, a cameo by Grandma G-Force and her pet alligator; and information about how researchers discovered that some dinosaurs not only had feathers, but dandruff, too. “Spit-Take! The Science of Saliva and Those Bitter Bites,” spring-boarded from Guy’s “not-birthday” meal of greens to how a researcher found that the physiology of saliva can be changed so that a bitter taste becomes less so. Each show includes call-ins from young fans sharing their own “Wow” science moments: “Bull sharks can live in both brackish and salt water,” says a Canadian 10-year-old; a 9-year-old from Michigan is wowed by the length of a woodpecker’s tongue; a 4-year-old from Wisconsin marvels at the short life of mayflies. (A single “commercial” break per episode is directed at adults, to identify the podcast’s education-related sponsors and offer a brief NPR show promo.)

Lynne Heffley ©2018 Parents’ Choice

A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.