Note: This post is an assignment for a School Library Media/Materials course.


DeGrasse Tyson, N. (2015, February 28). Evolution with Richard Dawkins Part 1. Startalk Radio Live Podcast. Podcast retrieved from:

DeGrasse Tyson, N. (2015, March 7). Evolution with Richard Dawkins Part 2. Startalk Radio Live Podcast. Podcast retrieved from:

Note: The above are examples of the podcast content. Analysis is based on the above episodes and curriculum specifics will vary from episode to episode.



Qualitative Analysis (Text Complexity measure analyzed using SCASS/Achieve the Core):

Startalk Radio is moderately to very complex.

Text Structure: Despite being on the topic of evolution, the connections of the talk were among an expanded range ideas pertaining to evolution and physiology, some processes were more implicit as the conversation did jump around a bit and as such the organization contained multiple pathways and some discipline-specific material. This is an audio podcast and contains no text features or graphics.  Text and graphics can be accessed through the companion website and will enhance the reader’s understanding of content is accessed.  Graphics used on the website are mostly supplementary to understanding the text of the podcast.

Language Features: The conversation was fairly explicit and easy to understand with some occasions for more complex meaning due to the speakers being scientists. The language was contemporary, familiar, and conversational. The conversation consisted of simple and compound sentences, with some complex constructions, but not overly complex in nature.

Purpose was implicit or subtle but fairly easy to infer; more theoretical or abstract than concrete. This was a conversation about evolution that had no set lesson to infer.

Knowledge Demands: Understanding of the podcast requires practical knowledge and some discipline-specific content knowledge. The podcast includes a mix of simple and more complicated, abstract ideas. There are many references or allusions to other texts or outside ideas, but all are within the scope of material that should be familiar to most high school students.

bill nye

Curricular Content standards:

AASL 21st Century Standards:

2.1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create

2.2.1 Demonstrate flexibility in the use of resources by adapting information strategies to each specific resource and by seeking additional resources when clear conclusions cannot be drawn.

2.4.2 Reflect on systematic process, and assess for completeness of investigation. 3.1.1 Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.

3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

4.1.4 Seek information for personal learning in a variety of formats and genres.

4.1.1 Read, view, and listen for pleasure and personal growth.

Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.5 Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.6 Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, defining the question the author seeks to address.

Personal Response to the item

I loved this podcast. I chose these episodes because I was somewhat familiar with Richard Dawkins, but wanted to learn more. Bill Nye also being involved was just too good to pass up. I think the podcast is very approachable because of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s popularity and ability to make science cool and fun. It’s made even more approachable because of the addition of Bill Nye and comedians Eugene Mirman, Jim Gaffigan and Maeve Higgins.


Startalk Radio