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A & E

WNIJ and NIU STEAM collaborate for 'The Sound of Science'

NIU STEAM educators Jeremy Benson (left) and Sam Watt demonstrate sound distortion headphones, tuning forks and a PVC pipe organ — all tools they use to teach students about how sound moves in our world.
NIU STEAM educators Jeremy Benson (left) and Sam Watt demonstrate sound distortion headphones, tuning forks and a PVC pipe organ — all tools they use to teach students about how sound moves in our world.

DeKALB – WNIJ 89.5 FM and NIU STEAM are partnering to create “The Sound of Science,” a weekly series explaining important science, technology, engineering and math concepts using sound. The feature will air on WNIJ at 1 p.m. Fridays as a lead-in to Science Friday. The first “Sound of Science” episode will air on April 20.

WNIJ’s General Manager Staci Hoste explains, “STEM is a topic of great interest to our audience – especially with Science Friday listeners. So it makes sense to add NIU STEM experts to the mix of information our listeners get during this very popular national program.”

NIU STEM educator Sam Watt, one of the creators of the series, says, “It’s exciting to reach a new audience with this medium. So many STEM topics relate to sound and acoustics and lend themselves well to radio stories, so this is a natural fit.”

Some of the topics the team plans to explore in upcoming episodes include the sounds of cicadas, noise-canceling technologies and the “noise” of the big bang – the cosmic microwave background that remains from the birth of the cosmos. As the series develops, listeners will hear from STEM experts from across campus.

This project expands an ongoing collaboration between the two NIU departments. NIU STEAM and WNIJ co-produce the STEM Café podcast recorded at monthly public events featuring various STEM professionals, and the STEM Read podcasts, which dive into hot topics in K-12 education and feature interviews with “geeky” authors.

The debut “Sound of Science” on April 20 focuses on the physics of thunder and the reasons it changes with distance from a single “crack,” to a series of deep booms, to a low rumble. You can hear “The Sound of Science” and Science Friday every Friday, beginning at 1 p.m., on 89.5 FM and wnij.org. Learn about NIU STEAM events and resources at niu.edu/stem.

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