The Idaho Law Foundation’s Law Related Education Program has always helped other groups on Law Day, but we always wanted to do something unique to our own program. A few years ago we assembled a group of attorneys and educators to create a Law Day contest for high school students. Our group knew that there were already many high-quality essay, art, and even video contests for Law Day and we didn’t think there was anything we could add to what already existed. After some research we realized that (to our knowledge) there was no one else who was sponsoring a podcast contest for Law Day, so we decided to adopt this as our project.
Our group developed guidelines, a rubric that outlines the criteria by which submissions are judged, and resources for teachers and students. We house these materials on the Law Foundation website so they are easily accessible for students. We also have a link from our page to the ABA Law Day website.
The contest is open to all Idaho high school students who can work individually or in groups of 2 or 3, to create a 5 to 10-minute podcast. The top three students are awarded cash prizes. Every year we develop a guiding question that ties to the national Law Day theme. For 2020, the podcast prompt was as follows:
Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights activist who fought for women’s suffrage. She once said:
“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let’s explore voting rights in our country. Why should people, as Anthony said, exercise their right to vote?
Our podcast contest started as a partnership between attorneys and educators and continues to be a strong partnership in the yearly execution of the contest. Lawyers, law firms, and legal groups underwrite the prize money. Attorneys and educators help develop the yearly prompt and a panel of attorneys and educators judge the podcast submissions based on content, delivery, and production and select the top three entries.
While the podcast contest is centered on Law Day and brings awareness to important legal and civic education themes, the project includes some broader impacts for students. It’s a chance for students to develop their voice. Students can own the entire process, from inquiry through composition, editing, and production. In the process, they can practice their public speaking, interview, and communication skills.
Podcast creation also develops lifelong skills. Students learn how to research, think critically, and reach an authentic audience. It has taken a few years for our group to get the podcast contest to catch on. For the first few years we saw just a few entries. But this year the contest took off. We ended up with 12 stellar entries from all over our state and were able to garner some public recognition for our contest and, by extension, Law Day.
Through activities like the Law Day Podcast Contest, Idaho’s Law Related Education Program is situated to provide opportunities to help develop knowledgeable citizens who have a deeper understanding of the rule of law. Our podcast contest shines a spotlight on Law Day and honors students who take the time to grapple with the big civic questions we ask them to explore through this contest.