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Vermont Public Radio

The Agency of Education partnered with VPR to provide educational broadcast programming for students during the spring of 2020. Below are links to the podcasts as well as related resources.

VPR's 'But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids'

But Why, VPR’s podcast for curious kids, broadcast live, interactive educational programs for elementary school students on Fridays at 1 p.m. from May 8 through June 19, 2020. The programs covered a wide range of topics related to natural science, poetry, space, history and civics. Students were  invited to call or write in with their questions during each show, which were answered by expert guests. The series was developed at the urging of the Vermont Agency of Education to help children and their caregivers finish the academic year from home, after schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids is an internationally-recognized podcast from Vermont Public Radio geared to listeners ages 4-10 and their adults. Host Jane Lindholm and producer Melody Bodette take audio questions submitted by kids and find interesting people to help answer them in on-demand episodes that come out every other Friday.

The podcast launched in 2016 and has received questions from kids in all 50 states and 62 countries. It has listeners worldwide and has exceeded a million downloads in just the last 6 weeks.

Programming and Supplemental Resources for 'But Why' Podcast Broadcasts

Considerations for Radio Programming and Students with Disabilities (5/8).

Broadcast: Race and Racism

A Discussion about Race and Racism: With so much discussion about racism and the police and Black Lives Matter protests taking place across the country, kids may be asking questions about what they're hearing on the news, witnessing in their communities, or experiencing in their own lives. The authors of the ABCs of Diversity, Y. Joy Harris-Smith and Carolyn Helsel joined this episode to answer questions and help kids process their experiences.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: A Musical Celebration with Mr. Chris

A Musical Celebration with Mr. Chris: Mr. Chris of Vermont PBS's Mr. Chris and Friends shares his love of music. The Junkman also joins the program to help children learn how to make music with whatever they have at home. Finally, musician, May Erlewine, a Michigan-based musician who started playing guitar and writing music when she was 11 years old shares her story about becoming a musician.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: Trees

Trees: Scientists, Alexia Constantinou and Katie McMahen, of the Simard Lab at the University of British Columbia answer your questions about trees and tree communication. Dr. Suzanne Simard's lab in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences studies connections and resilience of trees in forests, with a special focus on what's going on below ground in the soil.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: Kids Press Conference

Kids Press Conference with Governor Phil Scott: In June of 2020 Vermont Governor Phil Scott joined But Why Live on Vermont Public Radio for a special kid press conference. First, VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld guided children through what a press conference is and how journalists think about what questions to ask. Then Governor Scott joined the program for the rest of the hour to field questions from cub reporters.

Supplemental Lessons and Resources

Broadcast: Words and Language

Words and Language: John McWhorter, a professor at Columbia University in New York, talks about words and language; how new words come alive, why languages are always changing, and why most people in one country might speak a different language than people in another country. Listeners will also learn why and how words have power and who determines the power that words have.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: Space Exploration

Space Exploration: At the end of May 2020, two American astronauts were headed to the International Space Station. This was the first time in almost 10 years that American astronauts headed into space from an American launch site on an American rocket and spacecraft. They traveled in a Space X rocket. It takes less than 10 minutes for the astronauts to get into space, but much longer to get to the orbiting space station where they met up with other American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts. NASA’s Chief Scientist, Jim Green, will share information about this mission.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: Poetry

Poetry: This episode focuses on poetry and writing with Poetry Guy, Ted Scheu, and Rajnii Eddins, with special call-outs to other poets. Children also read their poems on the air. Fun writing exercises were included as well. Finally, Iris Robert of the Young Writer’s Project and a Vermont high school student shared why she loves poetry.

Supplemental Resources

Broadcast: Bats and Beavers

Bats and Beavers: In the first part of the hour, Barry Genzlinger of Vermont Bat Center talked about bats. In the second part of the hour, wildlife biologist, Kim Royar of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, helped children learn about beavers.

Supplemental Resources

2020 VPR Virtual Prom Celebration

Vermont Public Radio partnered with the AOE and Big Heavy World to present a statewide virtual prom with DJ Craig Mitchell on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Students submitted words of encouragement and reflection recorded prior to the event. The program also included submitted audio messages from Tom Messner, Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, Vampire Weekend, Best Coast, David Zuckerman, Darren Perron, Peter Welch, and Young the Giant.  MixCloud, the platform that hosted the recorded and live after show, indicated that Big Heavy World’s stream was the #4 treading stream worldwide. DJ cRAIG mITCHELL estimated upwards of 700 listeners, with over 200 distinct subscribers. Many had multiple people at each site with at least one subscriber having 10 individuals listening together.

To hear the pre-recorded, one hour Prom Goes #VTStrong event, visit