Earlier this year, PRX received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to fund public radio stories about STEM topics: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. One of PRX’s strategic goals is to massively increase listening to public radio works of all kinds. (We do pretty well!) This partnership with Sloan was an opportunity to add to the pool of stories about an often-underrepresented genre in public radio.
Our prime directive (as Spock would say) with the STEM Story Project was to:
- Unleash highly creative, STEM-based original stories and productions
- Educate and excite listeners about STEM topics and issues
- Tell stories and explain STEM issues in new ways
We received over 100 proposals that covered a remarkable range of the STEM spectrum — from hacker space to outer space, the physics of rhythm to algorithms, evolution to technological revolution, drones to prime numbers.
Here are the proposals that will receive funding for the STEM Story Project. We look forward to hearing the final products as much as you do! They’ll be coming July 15.
Forensics in Flames, Michael May — Hundreds may sit behind bars because of faulty forensic science. What engineers are doing to change that.
52Hz, Craig Shank and George Drake, Jr. of Everything Sounds — The world’s loneliest whale can’t be heard by others. Learn about this creature that fascinates and confounds ocean scientists.
Remaking the Science Fair, Adam Hochberg — Styrofoam solar system models. Homemade volcanoes. Do the typical projects at school science fairs really teach kids about science?
Last of the Iron Lungs, Julia Scott — Sixty years after polio vaccine, some Americans still cling to their iron lungs. Come inside the machine they can’t live without.
Space Crafty, Julie Sabatier — Fearless do-it-yourselfers are engineering their own rockets & space suits. How do their efforts fit into a growing private space industry?
Seeing with Sound: The Science Behind Human Echolocation, Meg Cramer — Echolocation isn’t just for bats. With practice, people can echolocate too. What’s it like to see with sound & how does your brain do it?
The Elusive Digital Stradivarius, David Schulman — Apps copy the guitar sounds of Hendrix and Santana. So why not the digital Stradivarius?
The Poison Squad: A Chemist’s Quest for Pure Food, Sruthi Pinnamaneni — How one chemist fed his men poison to win public sympathy against the food industry and laid the grounds for the FDA.
Mime-Matics, Ari Daniel Shapiro — Tim Chartier has found a way to fuse his two great loves: math and mime. (It’s a fusion that’s almost as unlikely as wanting to do a radio story about it.) He and his wife strive to have their audiences become a part of the world that they’re creating on stage, and in so doing, the math becomes at once understandable and unforgettable.
Magicicada Misunderstood, Louisa Jonas — “It’s lonely down here.” Cicadas emerge from the dark for raucous party.
Scout-Like Groups Focused on STEM and Making Form Around the U.S., Jon Kalish — The Bay Area as a hotbed of DIY culture that yields an incubator of cutting edge fabrication.
Fighting Crime With Math, Aaron Mendelson — What if an equation could put police officers at the scene of a crime, before it happened? For eight years, a team of academics in Southern California has worked to make this science-fiction a reality.
Engineering Gotham From Below, Bishop Sand — How does Manhattan stay moving? Find out the engineering creativity that lurks underneath the city.
The Secret Life of Particles, Reid Frazier — The secret life of dust–how particles pick up toxic hitchhikers in the air before you breathe them in.
Sailing the High Seas 2.0, Jason Albert — Wings flutter in nature, help planes fly, and oddly make sailboats fast and efficient. America’s Cup wing sail technology may revolutionize trans-ocean shipping.
Following in Darwin’s Footsteps, Veronique La Capra — Two young women scientists in the Galapagos. One—Ecuadorian—hopes to stay, the other to take what she learns back home to Papua New Guinea.
The same heuristic processes motivate storytellers and scientists alike: curiosity, skepticism, and a hunger for higher truths about the world. We’re hopeful that these stories help uncover just that.
Follow #PRXSTEM on Twitter for updates and to get a first listen to projects as they’re uploaded!
Image from Shutterstock.