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Resource Spotlight: Who Smarted?

Who Smarted? is a free educational podcast aimed at elementary aged children. The episodes are fun and engaging, and pack a ton of information into relatively small packages (they’re all about 12 minutes long). As of April 25, 2021, 81 episodes have been released.

The topics focus on science and history and range from traditional (volcanoes, tornadoes, black holes) to more unusual (“Is honey really made from bee vomit?”), but they’re all fascinating.

One of the things that I like most about this podcast is that it isn’t merely passive listening; there are always predictive multiple choice questions to keep us actively engaged. For example, Episode 41: “How did waffles help create sneakers?,” asks which invention led to the development of sneakers. The choices are:

  • A – vulcanized rubber (screeching car brakes sounds)
  • B – basketball (sounds of a bouncing ball, then a ball going through a basketball net, and a voice saying, “Swish!”)
  • C – the waffle iron (sizzling sounds, and a voice saying, “Waffles!”)

We’re told that the answer is A, but that B and C also get some credit. As the episode continues, we learn about the history of sneakers—including how sneakers were originally made popular by basketball players and how the waffle tread on the soles came about—and some science about friction.

With a name like Who Smarted? it’s not surprising that several episodes have a fair bit of information about bodily functions, such as pee and poop. As a scientific topic that is hugely appealing to many students in their target group, it makes sense to cover it. If your child starts giving you a lot more information on these topics, you know that the podcast has done its job.

This is a great resource for kids (and adults—I’ve enjoyed each episode that I’ve listened to so far) that love learning through listening, and want to have a fun and educational option. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice listening skills, but there aren’t any written transcripts. Also, the level of speech would make this very challenging for lower level learners, so I don’t recommend it for them.

Who Smarted? is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Oh, and the answer is yes. Honey is indeed made from bee vomit.

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