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Reporters from Terrascope Youth Radio interview MIT student about his work analyzing flow patterns in various combinations of fluids (Photo: Ari Epstein)

Science Minutes Inspire Young Reporters and Audiences

A group of urban high school students from Terrascope Youth Radio recently produced “Science Minutes” about research conducted by Ecosystems Center senior scientists Anne Giblin and Zoe Cardon. The students from Cambridge, Massachusetts, visited Woods Hole in August and interviewed Drs. Giblin and Cardon as well as scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Terrascope Youth Radio is a partnership project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the City of Cambridge Youth Programs and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. According to its director, Dr. Ari Epstein of MIT, the program was designed to “interest, inspire and excite” the teenage generation with interesting stories produced by their peers on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In particular, the Terrascope Youth Radio project hopes to have an impact on three audiences: urban youth, the program’s teenage participants, and other youth radio programs nationwide.

In her Science Minute, Dr. Giblin spoke on her research in Boston Harbor and described how the harbor became polluted by sewage. Dr. Cardon talked about how green algae growing in desert soil crusts stay alive despite arid conditions.

Dr. Epstein said he was especially impressed with the resourcefulness of the young reporters. He said that when one interview fell through due to timing, the teens walked out onto the WHOI dock, found the captain and first mate on the RV Tioga, and interviewed them, producing a Science Minute about the behavior of humpback whales.

The young people interviewed their subjects for about 30 to 45 minutes, Dr. Epstein said. “They were able to interview scientists in ways that brought out really cool details and then sorted through the interviews to find short but effective stories about interesting moments of science.”

Science Minutes are based on a format pioneered by WCAI/WNAN (90.1/91.1/94.3 FM), Cape and Islands Public Radio. The Terrascope Science Minutes have been broadcast on WMPG in Portland, Maine, and Dr. Epstein hopes that other radio stations will air them too.

All the young participants, ranging in age from 14 to 18, were participants in the City of Cambridge’s Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program.

As a result of the Terrascope Youth Radio program, Dr. Epstein said that many of the teens “developed greater confidence in their ability to understand and communicate scientific ideas, and have started thinking about how they can use their new skills in high school and beyond.”