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How popular is the NPR Student Podcast Challenge? Nearly six thousand entries from more than 25,000 students in every state were submitted last year. It’s likely those numbers will only grow as NPR has announced the competition returns for a second year. The contest gives students an opportunity to have their podcast air on NPR radio shows “Morning Edition” or “All Things Considered.”

Last year’s two winning shows came from two very different places. Eighth-graders from Bronx Prep Middle School in New York City produced a podcast about the often taboo topic of menstruation. And high school students in rural Tennessee revived a story dating back more than a century when their town became famous for hanging an elephant named Mary after she trampled her trainer.

NPR says this year's contest will follow the same basic parameters as a year ago. Beginning in January, teachers or qualified educators can submit student entries in two basic categories: grades 5-8 and grades 9-12. Entries can be as short as three minutes and as long as 12 minutes. The podcast must also not include any music to allow NPR to avoid any copyright licensing complications. Final rules will be posted in the coming weeks.

It’s not just students who’ve embraced the Podcast Challenge. So have teachers. “My seniors didn’t make it to the top two, but the learning that happened as a result of this challenge was more deep and more real than anything I have done in my 10 years in the classroom,” wrote one teacher in a Twitter post.

NPR says this year it will provide more support and training materials for teachers and students, based on feedback it received last year. That includes advice on audio reporting, writing, and sound editing and production.

Winners will be announced in the spring.