Story Collider: Storytelling About Science ★★★★
Story Collider is a compilation of recorded stories told at live “story slam” events – think The Moth or Snap Judgment. All the stories in Story Collider have something to do with science, whether the storyteller is a scientist by education or profession, or something funny happened in a high school biology class, or a speaker learned something scientific about his or her body. The live shows started in 2010 with founders and now hosts Brian Wecht and Ben Lillie, and the podcast has been produced since October of that year.
A new episode is posted roughly every week, so there are a few hundred stories you can listen to, covering such varied topics as marine biology, sex, physics, and cancer. The human connection is evident in every single story – where science collides with people. You may be surprised at how loosely some of the episodes are connected to what you might think of as science, but I think that’s a great characteristic of the show; it makes science normal and fun and emotional – and about people.
There have been a few repeat guests on Story Collider, including Elana Lancaster, Erika Englehaupt, and Skylar Bayer. Not every show resonates with me personally, but I don’t feel I’ve wasted a lot of time if I don’t like an episode because they’re usually less than 15 minutes. The website has a really simple design and it works very well for the content; I love the black and white pictures of the storytellers. There are also tags of the subjects of each episode – a nice touch.
A sweet yet infrequent occurrence that I really love hearing is when the storytellers seem a little nervous – there’s something so genuine about that. I picture myself on that stage narrating any of the thousands of stories I have about how science and my life have intersected, and I know I’d be nervous, because “science people” are typically not performers or entertainers. Perhaps this show resonates with me more because I love data and people and that is really what my day job entails–I feel so passionate about the importance of science. So if that sounds like you, you’d probably enjoy it too. Check out a few of my favorite episodes that aired 2016 below and see what you think!
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Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (4 / 5)
I actually learn quite a bit about science (and the human connection to it) while listening to these true stories; many of the speakers have been teachers or professors and you can tell by how they educate the audience.
Pop Culture Value (3 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (4 / 5)
Flow & Production Value (5 / 5)
Recording live can be tricky, but these producers have it down. Audience members’ laughing adds something great in some of these stories, I guess because you don’t always expect science to be funny.
Humor (4 / 5)
Investigation (4 / 5)
Storytelling (5 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (3 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (4 / 5)
Start with These Episodes:
Jeff Sparr: Obsession: A man realizes he suffers from OCD in his teen years and explains how he dealt with it
Amanda Stockton: The Girl with the Big Nose: Dr. Stockton grew up in Oklahoma and reached for the stars when she applied at MIT, and ended up dual majoring in aerospace engineering and chemistry. But first, she was the girl with the big nose.
Joe Palca: 175 Riverside Drive: An unbelievable story about how Dr. Joe Palca was led to a career in sleep research – even from a young age.
Dan Daneshvar: Making the Death Call: A man describes what it is like to ask families of athletes to donate their brains after they’ve died to study CTE.
You May Also Like …
StoryCorps, This American Life, Snap Judgment, The Moth, Female Trouble, Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller, Nerdette, The Lapse, Only Human, Modern Love