Podcasting science

Student's rants go to National Public Radio

Student's rants go to National Public Radio

March 09, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown teen is on the technological cutting edge.

Alan Sokol, 16, creates weekly podcasts, called "Alan's Yak," that are available at

Alan's five-minute rants and 10-minute interviews with various experts cover "topics teens are interested in right now," he said.

Heelys, the skate-shoes currently popular with tw'eens and teens, were a topic of one of Alan's podcast rants.

Other podcasts work to explain scientific topics in simple terms.

"I like to get into the basic science of things," he said.

Alan, a junior at St. Maria Goretti High School, prepares his podcasts in a recording studio, the "Yak Shack," set up in his bedroom. He uses a laptop computer and microphone.

The whole setup will go with Alan when he goes off to college, Mike Sokol said.

Alan is taking his interest in science and podcasting to a whole new level.

He soon will begin podcasting for Ira Flatow, who runs the Web site Excerpts from the Web site appear on National Public Radio, said Alan's father, Mike Sokol.


For, Alan will interview different scientists and authors. He has the freedom to come up with his own ideas as long as his podcasts are science-related, Alan said.

Alan is working on a podcast titled "Caffeine University," which discusses the effects energy drinks have on teenagers. He interviewed a nutritional expert from the University of Maryland for that podcast.

When Alan asks to interview experts for podcasts, they're happy to cooperate, he said.

"They see a kid wanting to learn something about what they teach," he said.

Alan also writes for Pulse, The Herald-Mail's teen section. He was one of the original Pulse writers.

Working for Pulse gives him many opportunities to interview people, and he likes to write "technical pieces" for Pulse, Alan said. One of his Pulse stories was about how to podcast.

One of his teachers at St. Maria Goretti recommended Alan for the job when he was a freshman, said his mother, Linda Sokol.

Alan is considering the University of Maryland and Penn State University for college. He wants a school that's close, Alan said. He plans to study some type of journalism and computer engineering.

"I already write, I'm already a technical guy," Alan said. "I would continue to do the podcasting."

Alan hasn't decided on a future career.

"I could have any career I wanted if I tried hard enough," he said. "I know I want to educate the masses in any way I can."

By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

St. Maria Goretti High School junior Alan Sokol, 16, records a podcast in his home studio. Alan's weekly podcasts, called "Alan's Yak," can be heard at

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