NPR Enters the Podcast Arena through Its First Ever Kids’ Program


Podcasts are the hottest thing in entertainment these days.  Everyone’s doing them and/or listening them.

National Public Radio is getting in on it too with the launch of its new podcast for kids  ages 5-12 called Wow in the World that illuminates the wonders of science, technology, discovery and inventions.

This is the first time in NPR’s 47-year history that it will release a children’s program.

Starting May 15, NPR’s Guy Raz and SiriusXM’s Mindy Thomas will take kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the most incredible science and kid-friendly news stories of the week.

The duo previously hosted a Friday news segment on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live channel called Breakfast Blast Newscast. The 3-year old segment went on to win the International New York Festivals Award for best children’s program in 2016.

And now the experienced two are taking their talents to the NPR podcast world.

Wow in the World is a place where we can tap into the crazy cool things that are happening all around us, every day!” Thomas said of the series in a press release. “We want to help spark conversations between kids and other kids and also with their grown-ups that will ultimately lead to their own big discoveries.”

Each episode begins with a series of questions that lead to an explanation about a new amazing scientific discovery or finding. For example, “How long would it take to get to the closest star outside our solar system?” or “How did we Homo sapiens come to dominate the planet?” or “How do astronauts poop in space?”

They hope to make the news fun and interesting by using comedy infused with conversation and voices from real kids.

“As parents and caregivers, many of us grapple with screen-time,” Raz adds. “This show is not just an alternative to screens but a show about celebrating the spirit of inquiry and encouraging kids to ask even more questions.”

Episodes will feature new research on , dinosaurs, animals, technology and human origins.

NPR will distribute the show and Tinkercast, a new production company that focuses on family-friendly content, will produce the program.

Wow in the World can be downloaded wherever podcasts are available including, Apple Podcasts, and at

Follow Wow in the World on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Kristin Cavallari reignites the Immunization Debate, the new version

In January this year, NPR created an interactive map showing nations that have large cases of childhood preventable diseases. The countries in Africa were high because parents didn’t have access to immunization but definitely would protect their children if they could. Meanwhile, the growing and new cases in so-called “developed” nations like the UK, France and now the US is out of fear from parents that their kids would develop autism if they got vaccines. 
Currently preggers TV host of E!’s The Fabulist Kristin Cavallari is among those parents.
The former MTV reality star of The Hills and Laguna Beach shared recently during an appearance on the Fox Business  “we don’t vaccinate [our kids]…I’ve read too many books about autism and the studies.”
Fox Business host, former MTV VJ Kennedy introduced the discussion as a joke when Cavallari said she could have her baby in New York City. Kennedy poked fun at Jenny McCarthy for not immunizing her kids and being among those who have contributed to the recent new outbreak of once eradicated diseases like measles in cities like New York City. When asked, Cavallari confessed that she too didn’t vaccinate her son. 
“Well, there is a pediatric group called Homestead, Homestead or Homefirst, now I have pregnancy brain I got them confused — they’ve never vaccinated any of their children, and they haven’t had one case of autism,”  she told Kennedy who replied “no links no links” before the shoe designer could add a point about how “one in 88 boys is autistic, which is a really scary statistic.”
Without a beat, Kennedy chimed in “well, my mom vaccinated us and she doesn’t have any cases of autism either.” To which Cavallari replied, “The vaccinations have changed over the years, there’s more mercury and other…” 
Oh boy! These days, now that more is known about the studies and that the links have been debunked, there seemingly are more parents who will immunize their children than in years past.
First, the mercury Cavallari was referring to is the mercury-based preservative thimerosal  which was removed in 2001 from all vaccines as a precaution. for kids under 6, except in the flu vaccine, the Chicago Tribune noted
Meanwhile, the Homefirst practice she was referring to was under investigation in 2009 and the chief doctor’s reason for not immunizing his children was based on religious not scientific basis.
The medical study that McCarthy relied on was also debunked when the chief researcher admitted to fudging data. He was since jailed and sued and is being held responsible for the unneeded deaths of many children in the UK and now the US. This map NPR created shows the recent new cases of whooping cough, measles, polio and the like because of the irrational fear. 
Cities in the UK experienced a recent fresh outbreak of measles, long since practically eradicated, because of mothers like McCarthy and Cavallari opting out of immunizing their children. 
*big sigh*
My mother was one of those African mothers in the NPR story.
When I was about 3 years old, living in the very poor nation of Sierra Leone, West Africa, where I was born and lived for the first 4 years of my life, my best friend Junior died after we both contracted German Measles. At the time we got the rash, children in America easily and were readily immunized from it and thus didn’t die off like kids in nations like ours, considered “third world”. 
Therefore, when I started having kids in my late 20s, based on my own personal loss, it was a no-brainer to immunize all my children because autism is way better than death. 
To each its own, but I do believe that overeducation can breed arrogance and aloofness to life and reality. The comfort of growing and living in an “advanced” society and culture leaves room for people to let various untested or unconfirmed theories control their decisions without stopping and taking a step back at the real practical consequence of it all. 
There are passionate parenting decisions I made based on things I read in books that I regret today.  Were I able to be more forward-thinking at the time and truly consider the real life impact those decisions would have on my children, I definitely would’ve done things differently. 
I highly recommend all new soon-to-be moms and dads exercise caution. It’s great to be educated but that needs to be balanced with being practical and realistic. Do not be so narrow-minded and accepting of various theories without thinking critically and embracing all aspects of a debate on the topic. 
Free your mind and the rest will follow!
*off soap box*

post signature

How Hip Hop became an education tool

Alex Kajitani, The Rappin Mathematician used rap to teach math & earned top teachers’ recognition 
Several people shunned early efforts to use rap and hip hop music to teach math and other subjects to struggling inner city and urban school kids. Over time, there have been several anecdotes and quantifiable output showing that the CDs do and have worked to improve test scores in critical school districts.
At the start of the millennium,  Silver Spring, Maryland-based music producer David Printis Sr, his son D.J. and nephews Alonzo Powell and Everett Roundtree could be seen peddling math rap CDs out of the trunk of a car.  Printis created “Multiplication Hip Hop” to help kids learn how to multiply. Printis, a music producer and owner of De-U records, told NPR in 2006 that he grew up watching School House Rock cartoons on TV and wanted to emulate that to get kids to learn their math tables.
“Multiplication has always been kind of tough for kids,” Printis told NPR’s Bob Edwards. “It was tough for me when I was a kid. This [CD] just makes it an easier way for them to grasp it. They just listen to it. You know how kids are. They just listen to the same thing over and over anyway. So why not something like this that’s going to give them a positive result?”
School House rock cartoons shown during cartoons
taught children in the 70s & 80s
Around that time elementary school teacher Karen Kunkel created her own CD “Multiplication Hip-Hop” and saw comprehensive test scores raise from 23% to 72% for math proficiency within a year and credited the CDs influence for the jump. 
And in Pittsburgh, one educator, Chuck Herring, produced his own line of CDs to teach children about adjectives, “I saw how my kids knew all the words to Tupac, Wu-Tang, Biggie,” Herring told the Chicago Tribune in 2003,  “But they didn’t know what an adjective was! So I came up with a little ditty about adjectives.”
Critics, such as one educator in a 1999 bulletin board community, responded to reports about universities experimenting with rap to teach, saying rap and hip hop are bad role models, the approach is racially divisive and untested, and used inner city children as guinea pigs.
But he was wrong. They all were.
Around 2005, San Diego teacher Alex Kajitani became known as The Rappin’ Mathematician and his method of using rap to teach earned him the 2009 California Teacher of the Year award, and a top 4 finalist spot for National Teach of the Year. 
And today, there are several companies, like FlocabularyLearning Wrap UpSongs That Teach,   including several corporate ones that use rap and hip hop music in their education CDs. Even the videos on popular websites created by McDonald‘sDisney’s Choo Choo Soul and other companies use rap to teach concepts to all children, not just inner city or urban ones.
Education isn’t linear, stoic, or rudimentary. Well it shouldn’t be anyway. This meme poster from veteran actor Michael J. Fox sums it up well. 

post signature

Black babies cost about half to adopt compared to White babies

Courtesy: Caryn Lantz

When Minneapolis mom Caryn Lantz and her husband were looking to adopt children, they discovered the total cost to adopt a white baby was $35,000 but there were plenty black babies available for heavy discounted rates and half that much at $18K and a Bi Racial baby was $24K. 
She was told the line for adopting a biracial, Latino, Asian or Caucasian child would slow the process because more parents wanted them.  
To Lantz who struggled with fertility before deciding to go the adoption route, it was a no brainer.  She and her husband adopted two African American children.
Courtesy: Caryn Lantz
NPR’s transcript of this segment of the national radio network’s The Race Card project explains further the discrepancy in costs.:

Non-white children, and black children, in particular, are harder to
place in adoptive homes, Norris says. So the cost is adjusted to provide
an incentive for families that might otherwise be locked out of
adoption due to cost, as well as “for families who really have to, maybe
have a little bit of prodding to think about adopting across racial

In other words, Norris explains, there are often altruistic reasons
for the discrepancy — “but people who work in adoption say there’s one
more reason, quite simply: It’s supply and demand.”

The fees
typically cover administrative costs, but also costs associated with
taking care of the mother, like travel, rent, health care and counseling
services. Now, some states and agencies are using a different formula
to make adoption more affordable for families, with a sliding scale
based on income rather than skin color. In that system, lower-income
families pay less to adopt. Some agencies are also moving toward a
uniform cost system where all adoptive parents would pay the same fees.

the Lantz family adopted their sons from Nevada, where the sliding
scale was based on income, not race. But because they were eager to find
a child, they did consider agencies that used a race-based cost

So interesting. It’s a double edge sword. At one end, it’s sad that the value of black children is so low, but the reasons for it are understandable. The other end is that because they are so cheap, they may be able to be adopted faster. 


post signature

For Expecting Moms, Doctors or Midwives

Virginia midwife Karen Carr was recently convicted of two felonies following the death of a baby she tried delivering. Carr’s story has rekindled debate over whether it’s better for a woman to use a doctor or midwife when giving birth. In NPR’s weekly segment about parenting, yesterday host Michel Martin spoke with Tell Me More contributors and moms Jolene Ivey and Leslie Morgan Steiner.  Dr. Manuel Alvarez, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Hackensack University Medical Center, and Dr. Randi Epstein, author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank repped the side of doctors and the value of hospitals and the contributing moms defended midwifery.
It was a very interesting and lively discussion for about 14 minutes. Take a LISTEN.
post signature