Radiolab: What Curiosity Sounds Like Discovering, Challenging, And Sharing Scientific Ideas

October 1st, 2011 - September 30th, 2014 | PROJECT

This project is designed to bridge the "public understanding of science" radio model with a "public engagement with science" approach using a new public media tool - the "Public Insight Network". Radiolab, an innovative hour-long radio program has developed a highly innovative and successful format over the past 5 years that fosters interest and understanding in STEM based on audiences' natural curiosity. It has exposed non-science attentive listeners to transformative STEM concepts such as Stochasticity (physics, statistics, neuroscience), Musical Language (behavioral science, neurology, acoustics) and Space (mathematics, astronomy, technology, engineering). This project will expand the model using innovative online strategies that will connect listeners with working scientists, with each other and with the Radiolab hosts. This new model is grounded in the direct interaction of audiences and scientists which positions listeners as active creators and curators of content rather than passive recipients. The target audience is young adults 18 years old and above. Key organizational partners are The Public Insight Network (and their affiliation with the National Academies of Science), American Public Media, the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Brooklyn College. Project deliverables include 30 hour-long Radiolab programs for broadcast on public radio stations; interactive, user generated articles for the web site; live online chats, engagement "apps" for mobile smart phones; and live events at college campuses and science centers. In addition, the project will implement a mentorship program to train college-aged underrepresented students that have demonstrated an interest in science and/or science journalism. Formative evaluation will gather actionable information from audiences and scientists than can inform the design of the deliverables.The summative evaluation will assess the success of the strategy for engaging audiences in ongoing science learning. Audiences are projected to increase from the current base of 1 million radio listeners per season and 2 million podcast downloads per month. The intended learning outcomes for the audience include their gaining greater knowledge and exposure to current scientific research, and increased engagement by becoming participatory learners through online interactions with science professionals and other listeners.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Radiolab: What Curiosity Sounds Like Summative Evaluation

Team Members

Ellen Horne, Principal Investigator, New York Public Radio - WNYC
Jad Abumrad, Co-Principal Investigator, New York Public Radio - WNYC
Robert Krulwich, Co-Principal Investigator, New York Public Radio - WNYC
Soren Wheeler, Co-Principal Investigator, New York Public Radio - WNYC


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1114623
Funding Amount: 992780


Audience: Adults | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media