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Brains On! Science podcast for kids podcast

Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world sent in by listeners. Like, do dogs know they’re dogs? Or, why do feet stink? Plus, we have mystery sounds for you to guess, songs for you to dance to, and lots of facts -- all checked by experts.

Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world sent in by listeners. Like, do dogs know they’re dogs? Or, why do feet stink? Plus, we have mystery sounds for you to guess, songs for you to dance to, and lots of facts -- all checked by experts.

 

#220

What causes wildfires?

A fire can be super useful or cozy or even magical. But it can also be dangerous -- and in the case of wildfires, if they burn long and hot enough, they can destroy ecosystems and send lots of harmful smoke into the air. In this episode, we're going to find out why wildfires are getting bigger and why wildfire season is lasting longer now. We'll learn how the tribes who've lived in what is now called Northern California managed the forests and kept fire in check for thousands of years, and how those practices are being used today. We'll hear from a friendly house about how to stay safe from smoke inside and find out how firefighters work to contain fires once they've started. Plus, our Moment of Um answers the question: Is the name of a letter considered a word?This episode is sponsored by Bobby Wonder, a podcast from GoKidGo. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans — there you can donate, join our free fan club, check out our merch or buy our book! ... Read more

20 Jul 2021

35 MINS

35:55

20 Jul 2021


#219

Million Bazillion answers your questions about money

Today we’re sharing an episode with you from our friends at Million Bazillion, the podcast that answers the questions kids have about money. They help dollars make more sense and they’re back for a whole new season!   In today’s episode, hosts Jed and Bridget answer a question from two curious listeners who want to know why we pay taxes. In answering the question, they come across the legendary Robin Hood, known for his hatred of taxes. Back in his day, tax-collecting sheriffs forced people to pay money to a king, who decided how those taxes were spent. These days our tax system works a bit differently. We get to vote for people who’ll spend that money on things we care about — like schools and libraries, health care for elderly people, police, parks, sewers and so on. With the help of a rambling troubadour and a tax policy expert, Jed and Bridget teach Robin Hood that the way tax dollars are spent today reflects what we prioritize as a society. Plus, we’ll ask random kids some not-so-random questions. Million Bazillion is a collaboration between Brains On and Marketplace. It’s hosted by Jed Kim and Bridget Bodnar. You can listen to  [more episodes here] (https://www.marketplace.org/shows/million-bazillion/) , or subscribe at  [Apple Podcasts] (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/million-bazillion/id1523486568) ,  [Spotify] (https://open.spotify.com/show/1QlbveZv5f9T0lo4qu8pkU?si=VtCWiw5TQmmkNDk1gIfFxQ) ,  [Google Podcasts] (https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubWFya2V0cGxhY2Uub3JnL2ZlZWQvcG9kY2FzdC9taWxsaW9uLWJhemlsbGlvbg?ved=2ahUKEwivsdW999LqAhWCnZ4KHX0RBi4Q4aUDegQIARAC&hl=en) , or wherever you get your podcasts.   ... Read more

15 Jul 2021

19 MINS

19:54

15 Jul 2021


#218

Why do mosquitoes bite? Scratching that itch

In this episode, we're tackling all the mosquito questions that have been bugging our listeners. Why do they bite? Why do the bites itch? Is scratching them a good idea? Why do some people seem to be more delicious to mosquitoes? How can we keep them away from us? And are mosquitoes good for the world? The Hoax Hunters make an appearance plus the Moment of Um answers the question, "What is a solar flare?" This episode was sponsored by: Indeed ( [Indeed.com/brainson] (http://indeed.com/brainson) ) ... Read more

13 Jul 2021

27 MINS

27:47

13 Jul 2021


#217

Why do songs get stuck in our heads?

You know that feeling where you get a snippet of a song stuck in your head and it loops over and over? Those hard to shake songs are also known as earworms, and in this episode Molly has a particularly sticky one in her brain. We'll find out why some songs are catchier than others and, most importantly, scientifically-proven ways to get rid of them. Plus, we'll hear a mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "Do spiders have bones?" Today’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and you can listen to Million Bazillion wherever you get your podcasts. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans — there you can check out our merch, join our free fan club, donate or buy our book! ... Read more

06 Jul 2021

30 MINS

30:55

06 Jul 2021


#216

Vaccines for kids and silver linings: Our second COVID summer

Adults around the world are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, and now, in a handful of countries (including the U.S.) kids over 12 can get vaccinated too. We hear from a 13-year-old who participated in a clinical trial for a vaccine and get tips for how to navigate the world when only some people in your family are able to be vaccinated. Plus, Kara and Gilly share expert advice on how to handle big feelings as the world starts to open back up. And a new Moment of Um answers the question: What are eye boogers? Find out more about how mRNA vaccines and clinical trials work in our previous episodes: [A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2021/01/26/a-super-special-shot-all-about-coronavirus-vaccines) : https://www.brainson.org/episode/2021/01/26/a-super-special-shot-all-about-coronavirus-vaccines [What’s in the COVID vaccine?] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2021/02/23/whats-in-the-covid-vaccine) : https://www.brainson.org/story/2021/02/23/whats-in-the-covid-vaccine-transcript [Find all our coronavirus coverage right here] (https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirus) : https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirusToday’s episode is sponsored by the podcast "Avatar: Braving the Elements”You can support our show at brainson.org/fans ... Read more

29 Jun 2021

33 MINS

33:33

29 Jun 2021


#215

Do dogs know they're dogs?

We treat dogs like they're part of the family. But do they know they are a different species, or do they think they're just short, four-legged people? In this episode, canine cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz helps us puzzle out this question. We’ll also find out what happens (or doesn’t) when a dog looks in the mirror. Dogs are always dozing, and we’ll check in to see if they are dreaming too. And, we take a quick trip around the world in the language of barks. All that, plus a brand new Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: “Why does the moon follow us?” Today’s episode is sponsored by Hooked On Phonics (HookedOnPhonics.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/fans ... Read more

22 Jun 2021

28 MINS

28:13

22 Jun 2021


#214

Our 200th episode is SUN-sational!

There’s no better way to celebrate our 200th episode than with our own shining star: the sun! In this episode we speak with Dr. Nicola Fox, who leads a team of NASA scientists that sent a probe to collect data and zoom by the sun. We also hear some great listener suggestions on what new planet could be added to our solar system. We even get a chance to check in with The Sun and her weekly broadcast, That’s Hot. Our 200th episode wouldn’t be complete without a visit from some of our favorite pals: Bob, Gungador, Harvey and Elevator! Of course there’s a new Mystery Sound too. And the Moment of Um comes just in time for mosquito season, because it answers the question: Why do we itch? Thank you so much for helping us make 200 episodes! We could never have done it without your questions and encouragement, and we can’t wait to make 200 more! This episode was sponsored by: ID Tech ( [idtech.com/brainson] (http://idtech.com/brainson) ) Sakara ( [sakara.com/brainson] (http://sakara.com/brainson) ) GoHenry ( [gohenry.com] (http://gohenry.com/)  promo code: brainson) ... Read more

15 Jun 2021

39 MINS

39:27

15 Jun 2021


#213

How far can a cloud travel?

We’ve all played the “what does that cloud look like” game. Maybe you saw a bunny… or an airplane… or a unicorn. What if that same cloud could also be seen by someone in a far off continent? That’s what a listener in Minnesota wondered. He wanted to know if the same cloud he saw in a park near his house could also be seen in Africa. We talk to Deanna Hence, one of our favorite weather experts, and she tells us about how clouds travel. We also dust off the Zoom Ray to learn about what is inside of a cloud. And have you ever noticed the similarities between cloud types, like cumulonimbus, and magic spells from Harry Potter? Well, we have, and we made a game out of it! We also have a brand new Mystery Sound for your guessing pleasure and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why do pugs have such scrunchy faces? This episode was sponsored by: Indeed.com ( [indeed.com/brainson] (http://indeed.com/brainson) ) ... Read more

08 Jun 2021

28 MINS

28:46

08 Jun 2021


#212

Totally Slothsome: All about sloths

There’s more to sloths than slowness. They’re great at saving energy, hanging upside down, and swimming! In this episode, Sloth Appreciation Society founder Lucy Cooke stops by to tell us all about these amazing animals. We also get into a sloth mystery: The Case of the Perilous Poop Journey. Luckily, there’s a sloth sleuth on the case. And sloths aren’t the only animals who aren’t in a hurry — a few others show off their slowest skills. There’s also a Mystery Sound for you to guess, and a Moment of Um: Why do ostriches stick their heads in the ground? This episode was sponsored by: Mathnasium ( [mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) KiwiCo ( [kiwico.com] (http://kiwico.com/) Promo code: BRAINSON) ... Read more

01 Jun 2021

32 MINS

32:08

01 Jun 2021


#211

How do computers store so much info in such a tiny space?

If you translate “Hello! How are you?” to binary code, it looks like this: 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00100001 00100000 01001000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00111111 This episode takes a look at how computers can do so much with such tiny parts. But computers weren't always small -- so we take a look at where computers came from. We visit Ada Lovelace, whose love of math and weaving paved the way for modern-day computers. And we hear about the material that let computers shrink from the size of a room to something that fits in our pockets. There’s also a visit from a yak and a ram, but you’re just going to have to listen to find out why. All that plus a new Mystery Sound and Moment of Um that answers the question: what is the flavor of root beer? This episode is sponsored by Mathnasium ( [Mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) and Sun Basket ( [sunbasket.com] (http://sunbasket.com/brains) promo code: brains on) ... Read more

25 May 2021

37 MINS

37:32

25 May 2021


#210

How does taste work? We react to our very first episode!

 Brains On has a very special milestone coming up -- it’s almost our 200th episode! To celebrate, we're re-listening to our very first episode which was all about eating. We'll play the episode and chime in with commentary to give you some behind the scenes glimpses and backstories along the way. We’ll also hear an update from our very first co-host ever -- Ian Roberts, who is now a college student and an adult. Plus a brand new Moment of Um answers the question: Why do we have birthmarks? This episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium ( [mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) GoHenry ( [gohenry.com] (http://gohenry.com/)  promo code brainson) ... Read more

18 May 2021

38 MINS

38:43

18 May 2021


#209

Like bread and cheese? Thank fungus!

That fuzzy sandwich in your fridge? Yeah, don't eat that kind of fungus. But the mushrooms in your stir fry? Or the yeast in your bread? Or the rind on your brie? Or the miso in your soup? All of those delicious foods are possible thanks to fungus! In this episode, we'll learn about how our ancestors first figured it out some mushrooms were safe to eat, we'll learn about the microbes that make cheese possible, and we'll meet some fungal chefs who are key to cooking up some of our favorite foods. Plus a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How does rubbing two sticks together make fire?" This episode was sponsored by: Mathnasium ( [mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) Sakara ( [sakara.com/brainson] (http://sakara.com/brainson) ) Indeed ( [indeed.com/brainson] (http://indeed.com/brainson) ) ... Read more

11 May 2021

27 MINS

27:22

11 May 2021


#208

Is mold alive? A look at fascinating fungus

Fungus deserves a party because it’s everywhere and super important to life on this planet. The kingdom of fungus includes mushrooms and molds, but also yeasts, like the kinds that help make bread. So today, we’re embracing the ick, we’re snuggling up to the slimy, we’re making friends with mold and mushrooms… It’s a full on Fung-o-Rama! We'll learn about a day in the life of mold, a fungus that turns ants into zombies, and how fungi will help us in the fight against climate change. All that, plus a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How does air fry?" This episode is sponsored by: Purple( [purple.com/brainson10] (http://purple.com/brainson10) promo code brainson10) KiwiCo ( [kiwico.com] (http://kiwico.com/)  promo code brainson) ID Tech ( [idtech.com/brainson] (http://idtech.com/brainson)  code brainson) ... Read more

04 May 2021

32 MINS

32:21

04 May 2021


#207

Is time travel possible?

Will we ever get to rewind time, or fast forward through it? Sanden stops by to tell us all about how time works. He also has a couple ideas about how we might make time travel a reality! But one tricky thing about time travel is that it’s full of paradoxes — so we look into those, too. And science fiction expert Lisa Yaszek swings by to tell us just how long humans have been thinking about time travel (hint: a really long time). Listen closely for the mystery sound, and the moment of um: how do clothes get dirty even though you can’t see it? Today’s episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium: ( [mathnasium.com] (https://mathnasium.com) ) and Sun Basket ( [sunbasket.com/brainson] (https://sunbasket.com/brainson) - promo code: brains on) ... Read more

30 Mar 2021

35 MINS

35:13

30 Mar 2021


#206

Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2021

What's that you hear? That's right, It's an episode of nothing but mystery sounds! Are your ears up to the challenge? Plus, we'll hear an answer to the question: "How do squirrels find their nuts after they bury them?" If you'd like to submit a mystery sound, you can share it with us here: brainson.org/contact. And, you can support the show at brainson.org/fans. Or, you can also buy our book, complete with Mystery Photos, at brainson.org/shop or at your favorite local bookstore. Today’s episode was sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares ( [sitkashares.com/brainson] (http://sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson) ) Purple ( [purple.com/brainson10] (http://purple.com/brainson10) ) ... Read more

23 Mar 2021

37 MINS

37:41

23 Mar 2021


#205

Why are smartphones so hard to put down?

Screens are everywhere these days! We’re taking a look at why smartphones are so addictive, and how our devices affect us. Our co-hosts took on a bold challenge for this episode: they went a week without phones or tablets. We’ll hear how their experiment went, then Sanden will fill us in on the brain chemical that trains us to love our screens. We'll also learn why the predictability of messages and alerts on smartphones makes them extra hard to put down. Plus, we’ll get a few tips from Catherine Price, the author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. And! A our Moment of Um answers: why are bruises blue, and how do we get them? This episode is sponsored by Wondery’s Little Stories Everywhere ( [https://wondery.com/shows/little-stories-everywhere/] (https://wondery.com/shows/little-stories-everywhere/) ) and the FDA (fda.gov/FeedYourMind). ... Read more

16 Mar 2021

35 MINS

35:50

16 Mar 2021


#204

What did dinosaurs sound like?

Did dinosaurs roar? Or meow? And how do we know? Paleontologist Julia Clarke stops by to talk about sounds T-Rex might’ve made. We know a bit more about other dino sounds, and dinosaur expert Riley Black fills us in on those. Plus, a game about dinosaur names, and a look at how dinos might’ve moved with paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor. Stick around for the mystery sound, and a Moment of Um that answers this head-scratcher: How does hair dye work? This episode was sponsored by: Sun Basket ( [sunbasket.com/brainson] (http://sunbasket.com/brainson) promo code: brainson) Mathnasium ( [mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) FDA ( [fda.gov/feedyourmind] (http://fda.gov/feedyourmind) ) ... Read more

09 Mar 2021

30 MINS

30:05

09 Mar 2021


#203

Dino Edition: How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?

20 years ago, we pictured dinosaurs as green, scaly animals. But times have changed! Now, we know some dinosaurs had feathers. And who knows — maybe some even had stripes. This episode looks at how we figure out what color dinosaurs might’ve been. We talk to Jingmai O’Connor, who studies fossil reptiles, about finding color pigment in fossils. And paleoartist Emily Willoughby talks to a “museum” about how her dino-depictions have changed over the years.  Our co-host, Elyana, also brought us this important question: If dinosaurs evolved from birds and birds don’t fart, did dinosaurs fart? Wha-wha-what!?! Look no further than this episode for an extensive investigation. Remember to keep your ears open for the brand new Mystery Sound. And break out your kilns, because today’s Moment of Um answers this question: How do you make clay for pottery? There’s so much dino-tastic information that we decided to make a second dinosaur episode. So if you haven’t had enough (and who has?), make sure to check out next week’s show about what dinosaurs might have sounded like. This episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium ( [Mathnasium.com] (http://mathnasium.com/) ) KiwiCo ( [kiwico.com] (http://kiwico.com/)  checkout code: BRAINSON) ... Read more

02 Mar 2021

29 MINS

29:09

02 Mar 2021


#202

What's in the COVID vaccine?

In this episode, we're using our zoom ray to zoom way in and answer your questions about the COVID vaccine. What's in the COVID vaccine? How does it work? And how do they make it? We'll also look at how our fight against the new coronavirus has had a huge impact on another virus: influenza. And, we'll head to a stadium to learn what 95% effective means for a vaccine. (Warning: There are seagulls overhead!) Plus, we'll have a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: what do scientists eat in Antarctica? [Read Katherine Wu’s article] (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/02/covid-19-flu-season/617924/) about what’s happening with the flu this year: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/02/covid-19-flu-season/617924/ [Find the rest of our episodes about coronavirus here] (https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirus) , including episodes on  [the vaccine] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2021/01/26/a-super-special-shot-all-about-coronavirus-vaccines) , [masks] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2020/07/28/masks-and-mouth-mist-what-we-know-about-the-coronavirus-now) ,  [social distancing] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2020/03/24/staying-home-how-social-distancing-helps-fight-coronavirus) , and how we’re processing this  [historic time] (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2020/10/06/past-present-and-future-using-time-to-understand-this-pandemic) : https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirus This episode is sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares ( [sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson] (http://sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson) ) and Purple.com ( [Purple.com] (http://purple.com/) :  [purple.com/brainson10] (http://purple.com/brainson10) promo code: brainson10) ... Read more

23 Feb 2021

28 MINS

28:15

23 Feb 2021


#201

What's behind the waves and tides?

In this encore episode, we answer the questions: How does the moon control the tides? Where do waves come from? And what’s it like to live in a tide pool?Sir Isaac Newton drops by and drops some knowledge. He helps explain why the tides ebb and flow. Then, an oceanographer/surfer tells us where waves come from and how they get their shape – cowabunga! Plus we hear about what it’s like for marine life that move to a new neighborhood once or twice a day. Sometimes it’s underwater, sometimes it’s not. Plus a brand new Moment of Um answers the question: Why don’t our ears have bones? And there’s a new group of listeners to be added to the Brains Honor Roll. This episode was originally published on Aug. 30, 2016.This episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson and promo code BRAINSON) ... Read more

16 Feb 2021

27 MINS

27:36

16 Feb 2021