In early 2020, Brains On! teamed up with researchers at the Science Museum of Minnesota, with funding from the National Science Foundation, to launch a study on how children’s science podcasts like ours, as well as the larger informal science education field, can provide families with science-based information to help ease children’s worries during a pandemic and support pandemic-related family conversations. Science Museum of Minnesota researchers gathered data from Brains On listener families at two key times during the pandemic, June 2020 and January 2021. Find out what they learned below!
Stage 1: June 2020
The first stage of research revealed important insights into the kinds of questions children were asking during the early months of the pandemic, the worries they had, and the types of support caregivers were seeking to be able to engage in discussions with their children about the COVID-19 pandemic specifically, and the science behind viruses and preventative health measures more broadly.
Stage 2: January 2021
The second stage of research revealed important insights into the kinds of questions children were asking a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the worries they had at that point of the pandemic, and the types of support caregivers still needed to be able to discuss pandemic-related topics with their children.
Comparisons of June 2020 and January 2021 Findings
In April 2021, the Science Museum of Minnesota and Brains On! conducted a webinar to discuss findings from both stages of the research, as well as share how Brains On! used the research findings to develop their episodes. Find out what we shared by watching our webinar recording and viewing our slides.
Researchers also compared children’s questions, worries, and information needs at these two time points of the pandemic (June 2020 and January 2021). Find that research summary here.
Brains On! Specific Findings
In June 2020, researchers also examined the role of the Brains On! podcast in supporting children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study provided insight into how Brains On! episodes helped to increase children’s coronavirus knowledge, ease their pandemic-related worries and fears, and support pandemic-related family conversations.
You can access the research summary here.
As part of this work, the Science Museum of Minnesota also compiled a resource guide of articles and web pages with tips on how to talk about pandemic-related topics with children.
We also used the research findings to inform the development of some of our coronavirus episodes and videos. You can find all of our coronavirus episodes and resources here.
If you have questions about this research study, please contact Dr. Amy Grack Nelson, Evaluation & Research Manager at the Science Museum of Minnesota. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Brains On! Research
Before the pandemic, our friends at the Science Museum of Minnesota did some research about Brains On! in general (with funding from the National Science Foundation). They studied things like who listens to Brains On!, why they listen, and what impacts does the podcast have on children who listen to the show. Learn more here!