Planning a family road trip this summer? Meet your new best friend: NPR’s “Wow in the World,” aimed at kids 5 to 12.
The weekly 25-minute podcast geared to “curious kids and their grown-ups” geeks out about science news with the help of co-hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas. Raz — whose voice you may recognize from “TED Radio Hour” and “How I Built This” — serves as the straight man to Thomas, a major-league goofball from SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live channel. She starts the first episode with a demolished piñata.
Oh, and everything they’re planning to discuss has just been smashed out of it. “Our show is in a million tiny pieces on the ground? This is a disaster,” Raz declares.
Listeners can’t see the mess, but the topics include a panda, a telescope, Thomas’s brain and some seaweed. Part of the podcast’s appeal to parents is that there’s no screen time involved. Instead, it just demands some imagination.
In Episode 2, there’s a segment on dinosaurs, specifically sauropods, which weighed as much as 170,000 pounds. How did they get to be so massive? Well, Raz explains, there’s “a theory, or guess based on scientific evidence,” that they had thick legs that resembled tree trunks. Those legs helped support their weight, like the pillars on the U.S. Capitol.
But pillarlike limbs wouldn’t prevent dino back pain, he points out before introducing some recent findings that their vertebrae were marked with “deep zigzaggy lines” and that other bones with these same lines connected up with them, creating what Raz describes as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. The way the pieces fit together gave them additional strength and stability. Put together, this puzzle could do some heavy lifting.
That’s not too different from the “Wow in the World” formula. Link up science stories with zany banter, kid interviews and a catchy theme song, and you might just be able to keep the back seat entertained. At least until the next rest stop.